Gender roles and intra-household decision-making on child feeding practices: a qualitative study exploring gender power dynamics in Somalia
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Save the Children International, Somalia
Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Başkent University, Ankara, Turkey
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1681
Background: The culture of Somali families is very collectivist, with communal responsibilities rather than individualist, in which culturally prescribed roles, values, traditions, and communication patterns are often significant factors at the household and community levels. This study sought to examine and thematically describe how gender roles and responsibilities influence the child feeding practice in the Somali context. Methods: A total of nine Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted on fathers “3-FGDs”, mothers “3-FGDs”, and Grandmothers ‘3-FGDs” in four villages in Kismayo town, Lower Jubba region between Jan-Feb 2022. The study employed a qualitative method to explore roles and responsibilities at home and in the community, as well as social barriers and gender dynamics related to child feeding and nutrition. Results: The pertinent findings of this study found that fathers and grandfathers have the overall family decisions, provide, and control family resources, and sometimes support and encourage women concerning family tasks, childcare, and feeding, whereas mothers are tasked with the internal household chores, decisions, and issues related to childcaring and feeding, while grandmothers and mothers-in-law act as a family advisory and take care of the children when the mother is absent or ill or busy. Conclusion: Traditional gender roles and responsibilities regarding child feeding practices still exist in the studied communities of Somalia where fathers were the main financial provider and less involved in the decision of initiation and continuation of breastfeeding and give emotional support to breastfeeding and child feeding practice; At the same time, the mother is the primary caregiver, and elderly mothers have both determinantal and beneficial on infant practices.
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