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Title: Participatory knowledge mobilization: a gender analysis characterizing the understandings of mother-­‐to-­‐child HIV transmission in Maasai women and outreach healthcare workers in rural Tanzania
Author: Birks, Lauren
Advisor: Hatfield, Jennifer
Keywords: Public Health
Issue Date: 30-Jul-2012
Abstract: In sub-­‐Saharan Africa, women of childbearing age are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Historically, efforts to mitigate HIV/AIDS among these women have been limited to high-­‐risk groups, such as female sex workers and intravenous drug users. Such efforts lack a gendered perspective, and therefore do not account for power differentials and patriarchal structures that influence women’s ability to access healthcare, to make healthcare-­‐related decisions, and to access health information. Gender inequities such as limited access to HIV care and treatment services, decreased ability to negotiate safe sexual encounters, and lack of access to family planning, are all factors that increase HIV prevalence among women. For Maasai women, residing in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Northern Tanzania, gender inequities are amplified by polygamy and a patriarchal social structure. Women are largely excluded from opportunities for education and lack autonomy when it comes to health decision-­‐making. Knowledge of HIV is limited, and maternal health services remain limited and underutilized. My research objectives were to investigate Maasai women’s knowledge of HIV and PMTCT in order to assist Endulen Hospital with delivering HIV and PMTCT services. I used participatory action research and gender analysis methodologies to explore and describe women’s experiences with HIV and PMTCT. As the research process unfolded, salient inequities in health and welfare of Maasai women became evident. Women clearly emphasized that while HIV and PMTCT were of concern to their community, maternal health and women’s specific health were of paramount concern to them. Through the process of action research, my participants and I formed a women’s group that shared each other’s experiences of living with gender-­‐based inequities. We examined the consequences of these inequities, and discussed possible modes of action that could attenuate the oppressive burden these women carry everyday.
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