The Impact of Unequal Gender Relations on Sexual and Reproductive Behavior of Young Women from Different Social Class in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Alessandra S. Chacham, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais
Malco Camargos, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais
Mônica B. Maia, Instituto Vargas de Pesquisa

We investigated how unequal gender relations decreasing young women’s autonomy in different spheres of live affect their sexual and reproductive behavior. Using data from a survey with a sample of 648 young women between 15 and 24 years of age (292 were living in middle class neighborhoods and 356 were living in slums), we identified how the presence of control and violence from a partner, a low level of access to financial resources and a low degree of control over their sexuality reduced young women’s probability of condom use and increased their chance of getting pregnant before 19. Even when controlling for young women’s age, income and education, lower levels of autonomy were associated with a smaller probability of condom use and also with a higher prevalence of teenage pregnancy. Our results reinforce the importance of understanding the impact of gender inequality on women’s sexual and reproductive behavior and health.

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Presented in Session 39: Gender, Couple Context and Reproductive Health