5. Original Scientific Paper

The main aim of this study is to explore the effect of women’s household decision making autonomy on their own and their children’s nutritional status using unit level data from National Family Health Survey (NFHS3) conducted by IIPS in the year 2005-06 in India. The paper also attempts to answer the concerning factors through which women’s autonomy operates. It also compares the results between north and south zones in India. The analysis is restricted to 11888 married, non pregnant women aged 15-49 years who had at least one birth
within five years preceding the survey. Findings of the study indicate that women’s education, job categories and household economic position play important role in the household decision making autonomy and in turn, it affects nutritional status of the family members, especially of self and children. Regression analysis confirms that women with low autonomy are more likely (Odd Ratio (OR) = 1.336 in north and 1.382 in south) to be underweight than those of high decision making autonomy group. Similarly, stunted children are significantly more common (OR = 1.236 in north and 1.199 in south) in the low decision making autonomy group compared to the high autonomy group. It is thus concluded that women’s decision making autonomy is an important determinant towards nutritional status in India. Considering north-south difference it is found that the proportion of women’s autonomy in south region is high (23.6%) compared to north (18.8%). It is also evident from the study that nutritional status of children is poor in north region compared to south region. Therefore, intervention should be required to uplift women’s position in the society in one hand and uniform medical infrastructure on the other.

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