Social and Demographic Predictors of Gender Inequality Among Heterosexual Couples Expecting a Child in Central Kenya

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Global Social Welfare


Imbalance of power and equality in sexual relationships is linked to health in various ways, including (1) reduced ability to get information or take action, (2) increased violence between partners, and (3) influence on the reduced use of health services. While there has been research assessing multiple social and economic variables related to gender inequality, studies have used many different definitions of gender inequality, and there is a lack of this research within a pregnancy context. Here, we attempt to identify social and economic predictors of gender inequality (measured by decision-making power and acceptance of intimate partner violence) within heterosexual couples expecting a child in central Kenya. We ran a secondary data analysis using data from a three-arm individually randomized controlled HIV self-testing intervention trial conducted in 14 antenatal clinics in central and eastern Kenya among 1410 women and their male partners. The analysis included Cochran Mantel-Haenszel, logistic regression, proportional odds models, and generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) framework to account for site-level clustering. Overall, we show that there are significant social and economic variables associated with acceptance of intimate partner violence including higher age, being married, “other” religion, lower partner education, higher wealth status, and variables associated with decision-making power including lower partner education and lack of equality in earnings. This study contributes to the literature on the influence of social and economic factors on gender inequality, especially in Kenya which has a high burden of HIV/AIDS. Our results show some areas to improve these specific factors (including education and employment opportunities) or create interventions for targeted populations to potentially improve gender equality in heterosexual pregnant couples in Kenya.

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