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The Role of Empowerment in the Association between a Woman’s Educational Status and Infant Mortality in Ethiopia: Secondary Analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys
Authors: YK Alemayehu, K Theall, W Lemma, KW Hajito, and K Tushune
Source: Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 25(4): 353; DOI: 10.4314/ejhs.v25i4.9
Topic(s): Education
Infant mortality
Women's status
Women’s empowerment
Country: Africa
Published: OCT 2015
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Socioeconomic status at national, sub-national, household, and individual levels explains a significant portion of variation in infant mortality. Women’s education is among the major determinants of infant mortality. The mechanism through which a woman’s own educational status, over her husband’s as well as household characteristics, influences infant mortality has not been well studied in developing countries. The objective of this study was to explore the role of woman’s empowerment and household wealth in the association between a woman’s educational status and infant mortality. METHODS: The association between a woman’s educational status and infant death, and the role of woman’s empowerment and household wealth in this relationship,were examined among married women in Ethiopia through a secondary, serial cross-sectional analysis utilizing data on birth history of married women from three rounds of the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey. Univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses were conducted to examine the association between woman’s education and infant death, and the possible mediation or moderation roles of woman empowerment and household wealth. RESULTS: Female education and empowerment were inversely associated with infant death. The results indicated mediation by empowerment in the education-infant death association, and effect modification by household wealth. Both empowerment and education had strongest inverse association with infant death among women from the richest households. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest an important role of female empowerment in the education-infant death relation, and the complexity of these factors according to household wealth. Woman empowerment programs may prove effective as a shorter term intervention in reducing infant mortality. KEYWORDS: Woman, Education, Empowerment, Infant Mortality, Demographic and Health Survey, Social Determinants, Mediation, Moderation, Ethiopia