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Matern Child Health J. 2010 Nov;14(6):988-98. doi: 10.1007/s10995-009-0535-5.

Women's autonomy and maternal health-seeking behavior in Ethiopia.

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Department of Sociology, Population Studies Centre, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, N6A 5C2, Canada.


This paper examines the net effect of women's autonomy on their health seeking behavior in Ethiopia. We hypothesize that women with higher autonomy are more likely to seek health care during pregnancy and delivery than those with lower autonomy. The paper also examines whether the autonomy-health utilization relationship is influenced by individual (education, work status, religion) and, household (wealth and rural-urban residence) level factors, all of which are important for both autonomy and health-care utilization. Results indicate that women's autonomy remains significant even after adjusting for other individual and household variables. Besides autonomy, our results highlight other individual and household level influences on the health seeking behaviors of women in Ethiopia. Results also demonstrate the need to look beyond individual level factors when examining the health seeking behaviors of women in Ethiopia. The statistical significance of some individual-level measures, such as education means it cannot be used as proxy for women's autonomy. This calls for policy makers not only to empower women, but also provide them with better formal education.

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