Women’s autonomy and its impact on fertility decision making: a study in rural Haryana, India in the perspective of low child sex ratio

Sutapa Agrawal, Independent Consultant

The paper investigates the situation of women’s autonomy and its impact on their fertility decision-making in rural Haryana by exploring primary data collected from five villages of Jind district during May-August 2003. Different female autonomy indices like decision-making, monetary, mobility, and combined autonomy has been computed from a variety of variables and categorized as low, medium and high. The study shows a grimmer situation of women’s autonomy in rural Haryana. A majority of the women falls into low or medium category of different autonomy. Autonomy indices vary significantly with the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of women. Logistic regression analysis confirms that the predictors like age, co-residence with in-laws, ethnicity, standard of living and occupational status of women have a significant impact on their autonomy. Contraceptive use is significantly determined by women’s level of autonomy and a positive association has been found. Also ideal number of children varies significantly with women’s autonomy status. In logistic regression result also women’s autonomy was found to be significant factors for family size preference. Women having a higher autonomy status are found significantly less to prefer a large family than women having a lower autonomy. Thus, it emerged that higher the autonomy of women higher was the fertility decision making. Also, it was interesting to find that higher the women’s autonomy, lesser was the son preference. Therefore, there is an urgent need to enhance the autonomy among women to enhance the contraceptive use and rationalize the fertility level with a balanced sex ratio in rural Haryana.

Presented in Poster Session 1