Women's autonomy in decision making for health care in South Asia

Asia Pac J Public Health. 2009 Apr;21(2):137-43. doi: 10.1177/1010539509331590. Epub 2009 Feb 3.


This article aims to discuss women's autonomy in decision making on health care, and its determinants in 3 South Asian countries, using nationally representative surveys. Women's participation either alone or jointly in household decisions on their own health care was considered as an indicator of women's autonomy in decision making. The results revealed that decisions of women's health care were made without their participation in the majority of Nepal (72.7%) and approximately half of Bangladesh (54.3%) and Indian (48.5%) households. In Sri Lanka, decision making for contraceptive use was a collective responsibility in the majority (79.7%). Women's participation in decision making significantly increased with age, education, and number of children. Women who were employed and earned cash had a stronger say in household decision making than women who did not work or worked not for cash. Rural and poor women were less likely to be involved in decision making than urban or rich women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Asia, Western
  • Contraception
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Prejudice
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women's Health / ethnology*