Women's empowerment has gained significant recognition in recent years. There is a growing acceptance now amongst development experts that improvements in the standard of health care and access to the same can be realized through improvements in social determinants of health. One such major pathway of improving the social determinants of health is the process of women's empowerment. Women's empowerment has five components: women's sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally (United nations definition).
Women’s autonomy is associated with better health seeking behavior, which in turn, is expected to lead to improved maternal and child health outcomes (Basu 1992). Over half a million women from the developing world die each year of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. A large number of these deaths can be prevented by access to quality health care. Lower rates of maternal and child mortality were observed among women with more decision-making power in India (Das Gupta 1990). ‘Empowerment of women’, is therefore, an important approach adopted in the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007) for development of women in India. Five year plans are formulated by the Indian government to develop the Indian economy. They are framed, executed and monitored by the Planning Commission of India. Women's employment plays a major role in enhancing their autonomy. This paper aims to study the relationship of women's employment status, an important component in enhancing women's empowerment and further improving their access to health care services in India.
The conceptual model used in this study aims to determine the association of women's employment status and their access to health care services. This model proposes that empowering women through employment can improve access to health care services. The model shows that employment of women has a positive association in increasing their access to cash and in decision making about their own health care. These components further increase their freedom of movement to go to the health facility and thereby increasing their access to health care. The model also proposes that employment of women can help in decreasing their need to ask for permission to seek health care and thereby not inhibiting their freedom of movement. The model suggests that autonomy of the women is improved by their employment status and hence improving their access to health care services.
Demographics (Employment status) (+) (+)
Decision making participation (+) Access to cash
(-) (+) (+) (-) (+)
Access to health services