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Original Research

Gender power dynamics in rural area of India

Subodh Sharan Gupta, Chetna H Maliye, Pradeep R Deshmukh, Abhishek V Raut, Amol R Dongre, B S Garg.


Background: There is a growing concern with the issues of women’s empowerment and individual rights. It has been recognized that the absence of an equal status of women is clearly linked to denial of their reproductive rights and is, at least in part, responsible for their poor reproductive health.

Objectives: To measure gender power dynamics in a rural community of Wardha and to study the relationship between the social status and reproductive health of women.

Materials and Methods: Study population comprised 10,000 rural population identified in the field practice area of Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram. Survey of all reproductive age group women was done in 10% households using systematic random sampling by female investigators. A limited set of indicators was developed representing different dimensions of women’s autonomy and power that could be considered to have an impact on reproductive outcomes. A “comprehensive gender power score” was calculated by adding all five gender power scores measuring different dimensions, namely, contribution to family income, ownership of property, financial power, freedom of movement, and decision-making power.

Results: In 43.6% families, women were not contributing to family income, in 38.7% of families they contributed 50% of family income. Only 22.4% of women claimed to have an ownership of property. 50.4% of the earning women claimed full control over income, while, 78.4% non-earning women claimed that they get sufficient amount of money from their husbands. 36.6% of women reported physical abuse, whereas 60% of them reported psychological abuse by husband or other family members. “ownership of property” score was associated with the use of contraception among those who do not want more children.

Conclusion: The gender power dynamics are not in favor of women in rural area affecting their social status and thereby some of the reproductive health outcomes.

Key words: Gender Power Score; Decision-making Power; Autonomy; Social Status; Reproductive Health Outcomes

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