Gender Equality and Childbirth Study in Nigeria

Demonstrating how increased gender equality can help reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria is the focus of a MEASURE Evaluation study in the September 2012 issue of the African Journal of Reproductive Health.
Gender Equality Childbirth Study Photo
Courtesy of Arne Hoel, World Bank

Demonstrating how increased gender equality can help reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria is the focus of a MEASURE Evaluation study in the September 2012 issue of the African Journal of Reproductive Health. “Gender equality and childbirth in a health facility: Nigeria and MDG5” examines how a woman’s decision making and other factors can influence her ability to give birth at a health facility and have a safe, skilled delivery, which greatly reduces her chances of dying from maternal-related causes.

Kavita Singh of MEASURE Evaluation, lead author, says the study team wanted to see if an increased focus on gender equality could lead to improved health outcomes. The study examined four gender equality measures under two themes. Both household and financial decision making were analyzed under the theme of autonomy, and attitudes toward wife beating and regarding a wife’s ability to refuse sex were analyzed separately under the theme of gender norms. The study also controlled for sociodemographic factors, such as wealth, poverty, and education.

Study results found that older, more educated, wealthier, urban, and working women were more likely to deliver their children in a health facility than their counterparts. After controlling for socioeconomic factors, high household decision making and the belief that a wife has the ability to refuse sex were found to be significantly associated with an increase in a woman’s odds of having a skilled delivery. The study indicates that women who have more autonomy and more positive gender norms are better able to access a potentially life-saving intervention. These results emphasize that programs and policy focusing on gender, in addition to education and poverty, can help further reduce maternal mortality.

The paper demonstrates concrete links between women’s gender equality and health outcomes, according to Singh. “Women’s empowerment is an important strategy to improve access to services, which can save the lives of women,” she says.

Research for the study was carried out in 2010 and 2011, and used existing data from the 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey. Initial findings were presented at the 2011 Population Association of America Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. 

View “Gender equality and childbirth in a health facility: Nigeria and MDG5.”