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Empowerment dimensions and their relationship with continuum care for maternal health in Bangladesh
Authors: Rushdana Rahman, Mosiur Rahman, and Syed Emdadul Haque
Source: Scientific Reports, Volume 11, Article number: 18760; DOI:
Topic(s): Maternal health
Women’s empowerment
Country: Asia
Published: SEP 2021
Abstract: One of the most important approaches to improving the health of mothers and newborns has been the continuum of care (CoC) for maternal health. Women's lack of empowerment may be an obstacle to accessing CoC in male-dominated societies. However, research often defines empowerment narrowly, despite the fact that multiple components of empowerment can play a role. The aim of this study was to look at the relationship between CoC for maternal health and measures of empowerment among Bangladeshi women. The data for this analysis came from the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2017–2018. The research centered on a subset of 4942 married women of reproductive age who had at least one live birth in the 3 years preceding the survey. Women's empowerment was measured using SWPER Global, a validated measure of women's empowerment for low- and middle-income countries. CoC for maternal health was measured at three stages of pregnancy, pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. To estimate adjusted odds ratios, we specified three-level logistic regression models for our three binary response variables after descriptive analysis. Just 30.5% of mothers completed all phases of the CoC (ANC 4+, SBA, and PNC). After adjusting for individual, household, and community level variables, women with high social independence (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.97; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.58–2.47) had 97% more ANC 4+ visits, 176% higher retention in SBA (AOR 2.76; 95% CI 1.94–3.94), and 137% higher completion of full CoC (AOR 2.37; 95% CI 1.16–4.88) than women with low social independence. Frequency of reading newspapers or magazines, woman's education, age at first cohabitation, and age of the woman at first birth were significant predictors of CoC at all three stages, namely pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum, among the various indicators of social independence domain. Moreover, the intraclass correlation showed that about 16.20%, 8.49%, and 25.04%, of the total variation remained unexplained even after adjustments of individual, household and community level variables for models that predicted ANC 4+ visits, CoC from pregnancy to SBA, and CoC from delivery to the early postnatal period. The low completion rate of complete CoC for maternal health imply that women in Bangladesh are not getting the full health benefit from existing health services. Health promotion programs should target mothers with low levels of education, mothers who are not exposed to print media, and mothers who are younger at the time of birth and their first cohabitation to raise the rate of completing all levels of CoC for maternal health.