Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type




First Advisor

Jennifer Bair


There are various trajectories of research that attempt to explain the causes of the maternal health situation in India. Within the research on socio-cultural determinants of maternal health, female autonomy has been shown to affect maternal health. I conducted twenty-five qualitative interviews with pregnant women that had reported symptoms of morbidities or complications in their pregnancy from six different slums located in Pune, India. There were five patterns of lack of female autonomy: (1) education, (2) marriage, (3) social interaction, (4) control of resources, and (5) family planning decision-making. These patterns affect physical health directly and indirectly. Female autonomy is also an important indicator of social health. Development programs and philosophies need to incorporate social contributors, including female autonomy, in their tools and schemes for improving maternal health, and subsequently national wellbeing.