175244 Young men's perspectives and roles in early marriage and childbearing among adolescent girls

Monday, October 27, 2008: 12:30 PM

Sidney Ruth Schuler, PhD , Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
Elisabeth Ann Rottach, MA , Global Health Population & Nutrition, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC
Lisa M. Bates, ScD , Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
Farzana Islam , Associate Professor of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
This paper is based on a qualitative study in rural Bangladesh exploring the socio-cultural processes underlying two proximate determinants of health and well-being -- age at marriage and age at initiation of childbearing. The study also investigated whether, and how, institutions and processes resistant to change may be undermining women's empowerment and its transmission and effects across generations. Here we examine the roles of young men in early marriage and childbearing. Open-ended, in-depth interviews were conducted with triads of women--young married women, their mothers, and their mothers-in-law. Fathers and married sons were interviewed to provide additional perspectives. The findings suggest that educational constraints for boys from poor families may be creating insecure, resentful young men who see early marriage and childbearing as a way to satisfy their sexual and status needs. Educational differences between husbands and their young wives (in a context where secondary school stipends for girls have been successfully used to promote female education) make some men insecure in their marriages. Impregnation is seen as a way to keep young wives from leaving the marriage. Our interviews with young men also point to a possible patriarchal backlash regarding women's roles and status which, if not addressed, over time, may act as a brake on women's empowerment. The findings suggest that policy makers should focus attention on the roles of young men as unintended victims of gender equity policies and take into account men's roles in early marriage and childbearing.

Learning Objectives:
Analyze how a policy that successfully promotes gender equity may contribute to a patriarchal backlash. Describe the interpersonal dynamics between parents, sons and parents-in-law that contribute to early marriage and childbearing in a setting where the health risks and social risks associated with these practices are widely recognized.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Women's Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I collaborated with the PI to develop research methodology and I completed data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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