Association of women’s empowerment with maternal health practices: Evidence from a cross-sectional study with women self-help group members in rural India

Laili Irani
Supriya Verma, Population Council
Avishek Hazra, Population Council

Globally, women’s empowerment is assessed by different combinations of indicators in relation to women’s health and developmental outcomes. Using data from a primary survey in Uttar Pradesh, India, this paper aims to examine the association between women’s collective and individual empowerment with reproductive and maternal health (RMH) practices that included antenatal care, delivery preparedness, postnatal care and current contraceptive use. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the sub-domains of individual and collective empowerment were developed. Findings show that collective and individual empowerment are independently and jointly associated with correct RMH practices. Women with greater mobility, high self-esteem, access to financial resources, and confidence in interacting with a frontline worker, are found to be more likely to access antenatal care. Delivery preparedness is positively influenced by collective support from fellow SHG members, who assist pregnant women in making these preparations. Receiving postnatal care is positively associated with self-confidence and financial autonomy, and current contraceptive use is positively associated with self-confidence, lower spousal violence, and confidence in support from the group. These results suggest that SHGs are a powerful mechanism for increasing women’s realization of their rights and opportunities, enabling them to access services and improve the quality of their lives.

Keywords: Gender, Health and morbidity, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

See paper.

  Presented in Session 178. Empowerment and Equity in Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Services