Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Do women with higher autonomy seek more maternal and child health-care? Evidence from Ethiopia and Eritrea

By Gebremariam Woldemicael


Current research and policy on maternal and child health-care in Eritrea and Ethiopia focus primarily on female education and employment, while little attention is placed on women’s decision-making autonomy. However, the role of women’s decision-making in reproductive health cannot be overemphasized. In this paper, different dimensions of women’s decision-making autonomy and their relationship to maternal and child health-care utilization are investigated using data from the Demographic and Health Surveys of Ethiopia and Eritrea. We simultaneously consider the role of socio-economic (indirect) indicators of women’s status . The study shows that most autonomy indicators are important predictors of maternal and child health-care utilization although the strength and statistical significance vary by health-care utilization outcome and country, and in some cases significance is lost when socio-economic indicators are held constant. The strong positive effect of women’s sole decision-making in visiting family or relatives on use of antenatal care and child immunization is particularly impressive. On the other hand, the loss of significance of other dimensions of women’s decision-making when socio-economic factors are controlled for indicates that some health-care seeking behaviours are more dependent on socio-economic factors like education and employment. The results show that most socio-economic indicators have strong influence on both women’s decision-making autonomy and on maternal and child health-care utilization. These findings suggest that both women’s autonomy and socio-economic indicators should be analyzed in order to derive a complete understanding of the determinants of maternal and child health-care utilization.Eritrea, Ethiopia

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2005). A Focus on Gender: Collected Papers on Gender using DHS data.
  2. (1994). Conceptualizing and measuring women’s status. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America.
  3. (1994). Credit programs, women’s empowerment, and contraceptive use in rural Bangladesh.
  4. (1993). Culture, the Status of Women and Demographic Behaviour Illustrated with the Case of India.
  5. (2001). Dimensions of women’s autonomy and the influence on maternal health care utilization in a north Indian city.
  6. (2004). Do women with higher autonomy have lower fertility?
  7. (2000). Empowerment of women in Egypt and links to the survival and health of their infants.
  8. (2002). Eritrea Demographic and Health Survey
  9. (1995). Gender and Demographic Change: What do we Know?
  10. (1994). Gender inequalities of health in the third world.
  11. (1995). Gender inequality and fertility in two Nepali villages.
  12. (2001). Government of the State of Eritrea) and UNICEF
  13. (1997). Incorporating women’s empowerment in studies of reproductive health: an example from Zimbabwe. Paper presented in the seminar on female empowerment and demographic processes: Moving beyond Cairo.
  14. (1994). Individual and community aspects of women’s status and fertility in rural Bangladesh.
  15. (1983). On kinship structure, female autonomy, and demographic behaviour
  16. (1997). Report of Seminar on Female Empowerment and Demographic Processes: Moving Beyond Cairo.
  17. (1995). Self-reported symptoms of gynaecological morbidity and their treatment
  18. (2005). The effects of status on women’s autonomy
  19. (1997). The gender dynamics of recent rapid transitions: The case of Bangladesh and Egypt. A paper presented in the seminar on female empowerment and demographic processes: Moving beyond Cairo.
  20. (1986). The status of women: conceptual and methodological issues in demographic studies.
  21. (2005). Women’s autonomy, status, and nutrition in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi.
  22. (2005). Women’s decision-making and child health: Familial and social hierarchies,
  23. (1995). Women’s Education, Autonomy and Reproductive Behaviour: Experience from Developing Countries, Clarendon Press,
  24. (2000). Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Processes: Moving Beyond Cairo.
  25. (1996). Women’s work, autonomy and birth control: Evidence from two south Indian villages.
  26. (2006). World population Data Sheet of the Population Reference Bureau. website: 25 Safilios-Ruthschild C.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.