Perception of Childbearing Women on Gender Roles in Reproductive Decision Making and Under-Five Children Health Status in Abia State, Nigeria

By Kingsley, Imo Chukwuechefulam; Isiugo-Abanihe, Uche Charlie et al. | Gender & Behaviour, June 2016 | Go to article overview

Perception of Childbearing Women on Gender Roles in Reproductive Decision Making and Under-Five Children Health Status in Abia State, Nigeria


Kingsley, Imo Chukwuechefulam, Isiugo-Abanihe, Uche Charlie, Chidi, Chikezie David, Gender & Behaviour


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

Child health status has become important indicators for socio-economic development as well as health of the people of a country (UNDP, 2007). Infant and child morbidity and mortality are the major health issues in many developing countries. In recent years, many family planning and other reproductive health programs have become interested in the topic of men's involvement in the reproductive health. These programs recognize that men's reproductive health directly affects that of their partner's health. Men play a key roles in supporting women's and children's health, preventing unwanted pregnancies, slowing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, making pregnancy and delivery safer, reducing gender-based violence and also have distinctive reproductive health needs of their own (PAI, 2004). It is shown that men also may serve as gatekeepers to women's access to reproductive health services (RHO, 2003). However, reproductive health programs have traditionally focused on women. The exclusion of men from such programs considerably undermines its own effectiveness and the resolution of International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994 that involved representative from over 180 countries and fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995 recognized the importance of the role of men in promoting their own and their partner's sexual and reproductive health. Even after over a decade of these landmark conferences, no proper effort has been made to improve men's involvement in reproductive health in Nigeria.

Everyday on average more than 26,000 children under the age of five die around the world. Nearly all of them live in the developing world (UNICEF, 2008). More than one-third of these children die during the first month of life, usually at home and without access to essential health services and basic commodities that might save their lives. In Nigeria, about one million children under-five die every year (DFID, 2009). Infant and under-5 mortality rates in the past five years are 69 and 128 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. At these mortality levels, one in every 15 Nigerian children die before reaching age 1, and one in every eight do not survive to their fifth birthday (NPC and ICF, 2014).

Several studies in Nigeria have looked at how to involve men in women's reproductive health issues such as care (Adewuyi, Odebiyi, Aina, Olatubara, Eniola, Odimegwu, 2005; Adeyefa, Aderinto, Olawoye, Udegbe, Omololu & Olarinde, 2004; Odimegwu, Adewuyi, Odebiyi, Aina, Adesina & Olatubara., 2002), male role and responsibility in fertility and reproductive health in Nigeria, showed that men influence all aspects of social life and relationship (IsiugoAbanihe, 2003), and men's knowledge and attitudes toward sexual and reproductive health needs of their partners (Bankole & Singh, 1998; Omideyi, Odimegwu & Raimi, 1999).

Women and men play a key role in determining infant and child mortality because they are placed in the role of mothers and decisionmaking powers of men transcend all the spheres including health matters. In spite of various studies which have been carried out on underfive mortality in Abia State, there are insufficient explanations on the influence of the male gender's roles in reproductive decision on under-five children's health. This paper, thus, is an attempt to show how the involvement of men in reproductive health decision could influence under-five children's health, seeks to fill the gap by using recent available data that would cut across different socioeconomic, demographic and reproductive decision making.

Brief Literature Review

National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2013 observed a remarkable difference in mortality rates by residence and reported that infant and childhood mortality is affected by couples' socioeconomic backgrounds (NPC and ICF, 2014). …

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