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Women's autonomy and utilization of maternal healthcare in India: Evidence from a recent national survey
Authors: Dinabandhu Mondal, Suranjana Karmakar, and Anuradha Banerjee
Source: PLOS ONE , DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243553
Topic(s): Antenatal care
Postnatal care
Service utilization
Women's autonomy
Women's health
Women’s empowerment
Country: Asia
Published: DEC 2020
Abstract: Objective: The present study aims to examine the association between women's decision-making autonomy and utilization of maternal healthcare services among the currently married women in India. Methods: A total of 32,698 currently married women aged 15-49 years who had at least one live birth in the past five years preceding the survey and had information regarding autonomy collected by the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 were used for analysis. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models were employed for the analyses of this study. Results: Utilization of maternal healthcare services was higher among the women having a high level of decision-making autonomy compared to those who had a low autonomy in the household. The regression results indicate that women's autonomy was significantly associated with increased odds of maternal healthcare services in India. Women with high autonomy had 37% and 33% greater likelihood of receiving ANC (AOR: 1.37, 95% CI: 1.25-1.50) and PNC care (AOR: 1.33, 95% CI: 1.24-1.42) respectively compared to women having low autonomy. However, no significant association was observed between women's autonomy and institutional delivery in the adjusted analysis. Conclusion: This study recommends the need for comprehensive strategies involving improvement of women's autonomy along with expansion of education, awareness generation regarding the importance of maternity care, and enhancing public health infrastructure to ensure higher utilization of maternal healthcare services that would eventually reduce maternal mortality.