Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Christine Stauber

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa Cassanova


The purpose of this study was to compare indicators of female empowerment gathered in the Demographic Health Survey, conducted in India as the National Family Health Survey. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a country-wide, nationally representative survey that collects important information on household characteristics, health information, and other topics, such as family planning. Two different years, NFHS-2 in 1999 and NFHS-3 in 2006, of the NFHS were compared to examine areas of progress, change, or lack of change in the selected indicators of female empowerment. Specifically, the level of decision-making and autonomy was assessed through the questions located in the Women’s Questionnaire of the NFHS. These data sets from NFHS-2 and NFHS-3 were used in this research. Two specific questions were selected as indicators of the level of independent decision-making for currently married women who participated in the survey. These questions pertained to the decision on personal healthcare and the ability to choose independently to stay with relatives. The logistical regression model revealed a positive change in the level of decision-making between the two survey years, with the range of odds ratios being 0.90 to 1.36. The largest difference occurred in the rural residents. In both measures, the youngest women had the smallest percentage of individuals with high autonomy and mobility. Overall, the study revealed an increase in the decision-making power of women but the majority of women still lack a high degree of freedom and autonomy.


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