Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

Gender and Reproductive Outcomes: The Effects of a Radio Serial Drama in Northern Nigeria

Academic journal article International Journal of Population Research

Gender and Reproductive Outcomes: The Effects of a Radio Serial Drama in Northern Nigeria

Article excerpt

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Academic Editor:Kathryn Kost

Population Media Center, Shelburne, VT 05482, USA

Received 30 April 2014; Revised 22 July 2014; Accepted 23 July 2014; 14 September 2014

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Introduction

The effectiveness of mass-media entertainment-education programs in increasing contraceptive use, spousal reproductive decision-making including family size and fertility regulation, and positive reproductive behavior is well documented [1-18].

However, relatively few of these programs have evaluated the effect of program exposure on various dimensions of gender that mediate the link between program strategies and reproductive processes, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. There are several reasons for this gap. Program components that specifically address how gender norms have been impacted are relatively nascent in Africa, having gained attention in the reproductive health (RH) sphere only in the past decade largely due to the emphasis placed on the role of gender issues in RH by the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development [19].

Program activities may unintentionally influence gender norms, simply because these sociocultural factors are inextricably linked to all aspects of reproductive, social, and economic relations. Family planning (FP) and RH programs can have an empowering effect on girls and women. Averting unintended pregnancies through FP fosters girls' continued schooling and women's engagement in profitable employment and reduces maternal and child morbidity and mortality. At the same time, the ability of women and girls to enjoy these empowering and health benefits of FP is constrained by the overarching sociocultural milieu, which is rooted in gender inequality [20, 21]. Husbands and partners who have vested interest in having many children are the usual gatekeepers of reproductive decision-making, limiting women's reproductive agency [22].

Yet, most evaluations have focused their attention on assessing program effects on reproductive outcomes but not specifically on gender outcomes (see [4-6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 23]). Substantive evaluations of these mediating gender outcomes using African data are even more scant because of unavailability of the kind of systematic gender disaggregated data that permit such evaluations.

The goal of this paper is to help fill the existing gap in simultaneous assessments of program effects on changes in both reproductive outcomes and gender outcomes employing African data and focusing on both males and females. It takes advantage of unique regionally representative cross-sectional survey data assessing the effects of a long-running radio serial drama aired in northern Nigeria to address problems of maternal and child mortality and morbidity arising from low contraceptive use. These data are unique in the fact that they contain a rich set of measures on both reproductive and gender outcomes, permitting a simultaneous assessment of both sets of outcomes. The study attempts to answer three research questions.

(i) What is the effect of the drama on FP and RH attitudes, intentions, and behaviors?

(ii) What is the effect of the drama on gender norms and attitudes that are presumed to mediate RH and FP attitudes, intentions, and behavior?

(iii): What is the relative effect of gender on each of the RH outcomes?

The study's focus on sub-Saharan Africa is timely. Fertility desires and intentions of both marital partners are important predictors of a couple's fertility [3]. Evaluating the effects of a RH intervention in northern Nigeria (a region where reproductive indicators have been persistently dismal) with an additional focus on gender norms and attitudes provides an avenue for improving program effectiveness and informing future programs. …

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