Women are one of the vital tools in the promotion of primary health care; they occupy an important position in the maintenance of family and community health. They are most aware of sickness and suffering in the family and community because of their social role as nurturers and care-takers of the young, the old, the sick and the handicapped, and they exert an important influence on the health habits of the family. The increase in the education of the female gender has a positive influence on maternal and child health.
The Roles of Female Education as A Positive Influence on Maternal and Child Health.
Education can modify women’s beliefs about disease causation and thus influences both childcare practices and the use of modern healthcare services (Schultz, 1990).Schultz, 1984 noted that mothers who are educated has higher tendency compared with their uneducated counterparts to utilize modern medicine and adhere to treatment recommendations for example the reproductive health and family planning information and services.
Furthermore, education may change mothers’ knowledge and perception of the importance of modern medicine in the care of their children (Barrera, 1990). In Indonesia, child vaccination rates increased drastically from 19% to 68% when mothers have at least secondary school education (UNESCO, 2010).
Educated women are better informed on the nutritional and other needs of children and unlike uneducated women; women who are educated are more likely to marry later and have fewer children. UNESCO, 2010 revealed that there is 50% chance for a child born to a mother who can read to survive past the age of 5 compared to a child born to an illiterate woman.
There is a link between the years’ spent in school by girls and the timing of childbearing. Richard et.al 2008 found in Bangladesh and Indonesia, that for every additional year of formal education by a woman the odds of having a child who is shorter than average for its age decreases by around 5%. In other words, each additional year a young woman spent in school, delay approximately six to 10 months the age at which she would have her first child (Jere et.al 2006). The likelihood of survival of hazardous first birth and survival of the first child is greater if the delay shifts the first birth beyond the adolescent phase, especially beyond age 18.
Maternal mortality is lower among educated women generally as a result of having fewer children. Maternal loss can threaten child survival chances as well as their future welfare and care, although in sub-Saharan Africa there exist an elaborate fostering mechanism. In Burkina Faso, literate mothers (mothers with secondary education) were found to be twice as likely to give birth more safely in health facilities as those with no education (UNESCO, 2010).
Education decreases mother to child transmission of HIV and reduces woman’s risk for contracting HIV. Women in 32 countries who remained in school after primary school were five times more likely to know basic facts about HIV than illiterate women (Jan & Enrique 2000).In Malawi, only 27% of women without any education were found to be aware that mother to child HIV transmission risks can be reduced by taking drugs during pregnancy, but that figure rises to 59 percent for women with secondary education (Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2010).
Female education equips women who are the main agent of primary health care with necessary information that loads them with the knowledge needed to enhance better family, reproductive and community health practices.Hence, a link to child survival. Get your female child educated for the health of her children and family.
Reviewed on 10/4/2020
Abraham Tanimowo is a child development and family studies specialist. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Federal university of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB). He is presently undergoing a postgraduate study in Child and Adolescent Health at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria with the aim of obtaining a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. He also has professional certification in project management as well as in health safety and environment
He is a young, smart and strategic individual with a great passion for public health and family life research with a special focus on the health, education and social well-being of children, adolescents and mothers.