Dimensions of gender relations and reproductive health inequity perceived by female undergraduate students in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam: A qualitative exploration

Thanh Cong Bui, Christine M. Markham, Michael W. Ross, Mark L. Williams, R. Palmer Beasley, Ly Th Tran, Huong Th Nguyen, Thach Ngoc Le

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Abstract. Introduction. Increasing evidence indicates that gender equity has a significant influence on womens health; yet few culturally specific indicators of gender relations exist which are applicable to health. This study explores dimensions of gender relations perceived by female undergraduate students in southern Vietnamese culture, and qualitatively examines how this perceived gender inequity may influence females sexual or reproductive health. Methods. Sixty-two female undergraduate students from two universities participated in eight focus group discussions to talk about their perspectives regarding national and local gender equity issues. Results: Although overall gender gaps in the Mekong Delta were perceived to have decreased in comparison to previous times, several specific dimensions of gender relations were emergent in students discussions. Perceived dimensions of gender relations were comparable to theoretical structures of the Theory of Gender and Power, and to findings from several reports describing the actual inferiority of women. Allocation of housework and social paid work represented salient dimensions of labor. The most salient dimension of power related to women in positions of authority. Salient dimensions of cathexis related to son preference, womens vulnerability to blame or criticism, and double standards or expectations. Findings also suggested that gender inequity potentially influenced womens sexual and reproductive health as regards to health information seeking, gynecological care access, contraceptive use responsibility, and child bearing. Conclusion: Further investigations of the associations between gender relations and different womens sexual and reproductive health outcomes in this region are needed. It may be important to address gender relations as a distal determinant in health interventions in order to promote gender-based equity in sexual and reproductive health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number63
JournalInternational journal for equity in health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the Fogarty International Center, US National Institutes of Health (AITRP D43 TW007669) and UTHealth Innovation for Cancer Prevention Research Post-doctoral Fellowship, CPRIT grant #RP101503 for funding this study and TCB’s education. TCB is also a fellow of the Vietnam Education Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Fogarty International Center, the National Institutes of Health, or the Vietnam Education Foundation. We especially thank Can Tho University and An Giang University for assistance with data collection.


  • Gender equity
  • Gender relation
  • Reproductive health
  • Undergraduate student.
  • Vietnam
  • Womens health


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