Cultivating the power of partnerships in feminist participatory action research in women's health.Nurs Inq. 2010 Dec; 17(4):324-35.NI
Feminist participatory action research integrates feminist theories and participatory action research methods, often with the explicit intention of building community-academic partnerships to create new forms of knowledge to inform women's health. Despite the current pro-partnership agenda in health research and policy settings, a lack of attention has been paid to how to cultivate effective partnerships given limited resources, competing agendas, and inherent power differences. Based on our 10+ years individually and collectively conducting women's health and feminist participatory action research, we suggest that it is imperative to intentionally develop power-with strategies in order to avoid replicating the power imbalances that such projects seek to redress. By drawing on examples from three of our recent feminist participatory action projects we reflect on some of the tensions and complexities of attempting to cultivate power-with research partnerships. We then offer skills and resources needed by academic researchers to effectively harness the collective resources, agendas, and knowledge that each partner brings to the table. We suggest that investing in the process of cultivating power-with research partnerships ultimately improves our collective ability to understand and address women's health issues.