Women's Autonomy and Family Planning Practices among Married Women in Coimbatore
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Autonomy is the ability to obtain information and make decisions about one's own concerns. Women's autonomy in health care decision making is extremely important for better maternal and child health outcomes, and as an indicator of women's empowerment. Gender based power inequalities can restrict open communication between partners about reproductive health decisions as well as women's access to reproductive health services. In India, use of contraception is greatly influenced by women's autonomy. OBJECTIVE: This study was carried out to identify the relationship between women's autonomy and family planning practices.
A descriptive cross sectional survey was carried out to explore the relationship between the women's autonomy and family planning practices among currently non pregnant married women. Data was collected from a conveniently selected sample of 56 married women using an interview schedule. Women's autonomy was estimated through questionnaire which includes three dimensions of autonomy such as decision making autonomy, movement autonomy and control over economic resources. A number of socio demographic variables were used to investigate the association between autonomy and contraceptive use. Chi square test was used to test the significance of data.
While assessing the autonomy level of the women, 41% showed high decision making power, 55.3% were with moderate decision making power and 3.5% had no decision making power. In regard to freedom of movement 39.2% had complete freedom of movement, 33.9% had incomplete freedom of movement and 26.7% had no freedom of movement. Among 56 samples, 50% had control over their economic resources. Contraceptive use among these women was 53.6%; Decision making autonomy and educational level was significantly associated with contraception use.
Improvement in power equality and educational qualification among women are the effective and efficient methods to improve the use of contraceptive methods, on the other hand it may reduce unintended pregnancies as well as improve reproductive health outcome.
Married Woman, Autonomy, Contraceptive practices.