n Gender and Behaviour - Masculinity and health in Nigeria : vulnerabilities, indifference and options




After the International Conference on Population and Development of 1994, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programs respond to ways in which socially constructed ideologies have shaped women's experiences of SRH. There is however no commensurate attempt to understand men's perception of gender ideologies. What is known is that men are often blamed for women's SRH needs, with little or no attempt to understand men's view on these. This study was designed to examine how socially constructed differences between men and women affect men's experience of SRH. This study draws on qualitative data generated in 2005 from twenty focus group discussions, ten in-depth interviews and ten interviews with community leaders in urban and rural areas of South East Nigeria. The group discussions and interviews were conducted among men of four age groups: 15-24, 25-39, 40-54, and 55+. Gender role theory was the theoretical framework for the study. The major themes from content analysis include: men's health risks, beliefs about masculine ideologies, and attitudes about vulnerability to health risks. Although traditional masculine ideologies and practices were identified, there is evidence of a shift from traditional to nontraditional attitudes and practices among men in the area. Most of the men were aware of their health needs, but think that researchers/policy makers in Nigeria are indifferent to these needs. The findings highlight the necessity of incorporating men's SRH needs into existing reproductive health programs. This would promote effective male involvement in their partners' SRH. Implications of findings for future research and advocacy are discussed.


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