Women's autonomy in health-care decision is a prerequisite for improvements in maternal and child health. Little is known about women’s autonomy and its influencing factors on maternal and child health care in Ethiopia. Therefore, this study was conducted to assess women’s autonomy and identify associated factors in Southeast Ethiopia.
A community based cross-sectional study was conducted from March 19th until March 28th, 2011. A total of 706 women were selected using stratified sampling technique from rural and urban kebeles. The quantitative data were collected by interviewer administered questionnaire and analyzed using SPSS for window version 16.0. Descriptive statistics, bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify factors associated with women’s autonomy for health care utilization.
Out of 706 women less than half (41.4%) had higher autonomy regarding their own and their children’s health. In the multiple logistic regression model monthly household income >1000 ETB [adjusted odds ratio(AOR):3.32(95% C.I: 1.62-6.78)], having employed husband [AOR: 3.75 (95% C.I:1.24-11.32)], being in a nuclear family structure [AOR: 0.53(95% C.I: 0.33-0.87)], being in monogamous marriage [AOR: 3.18(95% C.I: 1.35-7.50)], being knowledgeable and having favorable attitude toward maternal and child health care services were independently associated with an increased odds of women’s autonomy.
Socio-demographic and maternal factors (knowledge and attitude) were found to influence women’s autonomy. Interventions targeting women’s autonomy with regards to maternal and child health care should focus on addressing increasing awareness and priority should be given to women with a lower socioeconomic status.