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Kirsten Stoebenau, Behavioral & Community Health

"Come, we try" - A qualitative study of changing marital practices in low-income settings in Eastern Africa and the implications for maternal and child health
When Nov 19, 2018
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 1101 Morrill Hall
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Presentation

Significant change to marriage is taking place across sub-Saharan Africa. Demographic studies have pointed to a rise in the age of marriage, and an increased risk of premarital fertility, as the age of marriage rises faster than the age of sexual initiation.  The focus on changes to the timing of first marriage and childbirth are important but tell us little if we do not also capture changes to how union and family formation are taking place and for whom. As detailed in contexts across the Global North, change in family behavior has not been experienced evenly across socio-economic status. I address changes to marriage and family formation in two low-income settings. Data from Uganda include in-depth interviews (n=40) and focus group discussions with two generations (n=8) from a larger mixed-method study of adolescent fertility in rural West Nile, Uganda. Data from an informal settlement community in Nairobi, Kenya include 20 in-depth interviews and 4 focus group discussions with young men and women. The case study from Uganda highlights gendered and generational distinctions in the perceived explanations for a rise in ‘pregnancy-forced marriage’ among adolescents, and a concomitant decline in ‘respectful’ marriage. The findings from Nairobi, Kenya underline how economic uncertainty and gender inequality structure preferences for informal, and often unstable unions.  Both cases point to consequences for the wellbeing of young women and their children.  I place these findings within a discussion of social stratification in family behavior, and address the importance of capturing measures of family behavior processes and transitions going forward.  

About the Speaker

Kirsten Stoebenau

Dr. Stoebenau is interested in the social and structural determinants of women's sexual and reproductive health, with a geographical focus on sub-Saharan Africa. She has focused on two areas to date - women's sexual behavior within the context of HIV prevention, and fertility. With respect to women's sexual behavior she has examined the roles of race and ethnicity in shaping women sex workers' health concerns and have contributed to defining, measuring and conceptualizing "transactional sex" and its role in young women's HIV risk. With respect to fertility, her work has considered the relationship between gender inequality and fertility decline, and the determinants of adolescent fertility. 

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