Convergence and divergence in spouses' perspectives on women's autonomy in rural India (PDF)
Studies in Family Planning 33(4): 299-308
Publication date: 2002
This study explores similarities and differences in the perceptions of rural Indian women and their husbands with regard to various dimensions of women's autonomy and investigates the extent to which various reproductive outcomes-contraception, unmet need, recent fertility, and spousal communication-are influenced by individual partners' views of women's autonomy. Data are drawn from a 1993-94 community-based study of women's autonomy in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, states that are, respectively, more and less patriarchal. Matched data were obtained from 1,660 women and their husbands. Results indicate no more than a loose agreement between women and their husbands concerning the dimensions of women's autonomy within the home. Where disagreement is expressed, husbands are more likely to project a comparatively liberal picture of their wives' autonomy than do their wives, and the inference can be made that in surveys men tended to provide more "acceptable" responses than when they were questioned in greater depth. Findings also suggest that cultural context affects the influences that wives' and their husbands' perceptions of women's autonomy have on reproductive outcomes. A clear regional divide is seen, net of individual and household characteristics, in the influence of almost every aspect of women's autonomy.