Influence of Women's Empowerment on Maternal Health and Maternal Health Service Utilization: A Regional Look at Africa

Kavita Singh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Shelah S. Bloom, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper explores the influence of women’s empowerment on low BMI (a measure of maternal health) and facility delivery (a measure of the utilization of maternal health services) in eight African countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. Three aspects of women’s empowerment were studied – household decision-making, financial decison-making and attitudes regarding inequities in gender roles. Multivariate analysis indicated that after controlling for socioeconomic variables, having high financial or household decision-making authority were protective factors against low BMI in the DRC, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia. Analysis for facility delivery indicated financial and household decision-making and attitudes towards gender roles were significantly associated with facility delivery in Nigeria. Attitudes towards gender roles were significant for both Ghana and Uganda. Findings indicate that women’s empowerment is a key distal determinant to be considered in programs and policies to improve maternal health.

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Presented in Poster Session 6