We only use your email address to send you the newsletter and to see how many people are opening our emails. A full privacy policy can be viewed here. You can change your mind at any time and update your preferences or unsubscribe.

An adolescent girl from Gaza. Photo: Rebecca Reid/Overseas Development Institute

Do restrictive gender attitudes and norms influence physical and mental health during very young adolescence? Evidence from Bangladesh and Ethiopia

22.11.19 | Bangladesh | Ethiopia

Gender equality | Gender norms | Health | Psychosocial well-being

Authors

Baird, S., Bhutta, Z., Hamad, B., Hicks, J., Jones, N. and Muz, J.

Adolescence is seen as a window of opportunity for intervention but also as a time during which restrictive gender attitudes and norms become more salient. This increasingly gendered world has the potential to profoundly influence adolescents’ capabilities, including their physical and mental health. Using quantitative data on 6,500 young adolescents (10–12) from the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) program, this paper analyses the association between restrictive gender attitudes (RGAs) at the individual level and restrictive gender norms (RGNs) at the community level and physical and mental health in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. We find significant associations between RGAs and RGNs and height-for-age z-scores, body mass index z-scores, self-reported health, adolescent hunger, psychological well-being, and self-esteem. We find no relationship between RGAs or RGNs and illness. We also find heterogeneity across country and urbanicity. We find surprisingly limited variation by gender, and the differences we do see point to important vulnerabilities for both boys and girls. Our results point to the powerful role that distal factors such as culture and beliefs, as manifested through RGAs and RGNs, can play in shaping health outcomes for both boys and girls and suggest important next steps for future research and policy.

Suggested citation

Baird, S., Bhutta, Z. A., Hamad, B. A., Hicks, J. H., Jones, N. and Muz, J. (2019) ‘Do restrictive gender attitudes and norms influence physical and mental health during very young Adolescence? Evidence from Bangladesh and Ethiopia’, SSM – Population Health, 9, p. 100480.


Related publications

Reports
23.09.22
Crisis within crisis: The psychosocial toll of Lebanon’s economic and political turmoil on Syrian refugee adolescents
Voice and agency
Lebanon
Read more
23.09.22 | Voice and agency | Reports | Lebanon
Crisis within crisis: The psychosocial toll of Lebanon’s economic and political turmoil on Syrian refugee adolescents
Read more
Reports
23.09.22
Adolescents in the abyss of Lebanon’s worst economic crisis: A focus on Lebanese and Palestinian adolescents’ education, and voice and agency
Education and learning
Lebanon
Read more
23.09.22 | Education and learning | Reports | Lebanon
Adolescents in the abyss of Lebanon’s worst economic crisis: A focus on Lebanese and Palestinian adolescents’ education, and voice and agency
Read more
Journal articles
13.09.22
Sexual and reproductive health and rights in the era of COVID-19: a qualitative study of the experiences of vulnerable urban youth in Ethiopia
Sexual reproductive health and nutrition
Ethiopia
Read more
13.09.22 | Sexual reproductive health and nutrition | Journal articles | Ethiopia
Sexual and reproductive health and rights in the era of COVID-19: a qualitative study of the experiences of vulnerable urban youth in Ethiopia
Read more