Perceived gender relations and sexual relations among undergraduate female students in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam

Thanh Cong Bui, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Literature worldwide has documented associations between gender-based relationship inequity, sexual communication self-efficacy, and actual use of condoms and contraceptives among young women. However studies that have rigorously tested these associations in southern Vietnam are extremely rare. This study aimed to examine these associations and other current sexual practices among undergraduate female students in the Mekong Delta. Method. A qualitative study was conducted to examine the operationalization of the Theory of Gender and Power and to obtain salient and culture-relevant dimensions of perceived gender relations in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Sixty-four undergraduate female students from two universities participated in eight group discussions focusing on their viewpoints regarding national and local gender equity issues. A subsequent cross-sectional survey consisting of 1181 third-year female students from Can Tho University and An Giang University was conducted. Latent variable modeling and logistic regression were employed to examine the hypothesized associations. Results. Dimensions of perceived gender relations were attributable to theoretical structures of labor, power, and cathexis. Perceptions about gender inequities were comparable to findings from several reports, in which women were still viewed as inferior and subordinate to men. Among students who had ever had a boyfriend(s) (72.4%), 44.8% indicated that their boyfriend had ever asked for sex, 13% had ever had penile-vaginal sex, and 10.3% had ever had oral sex. For those who had ever had penile-vaginal sex, 33% did not use any contraceptive method at first sex. The greater a student’s perception that women were subordinate to men, the lower her self-efficacy for sexual communication and the lower her actual frequencies of asking for contraceptive or condom use. Sexual communication self-efficacy was marginally associated with actual contraceptive use (p=.039) and condom use (p=.092) at first sex. Conclusion. Sexual health promotion strategies should address the influence of perceived unequal gender relations on young women’s sexual communication self-efficacy and the subsequent impact on actual contraceptive and condom use.

Subject Area

Public health|Behavioral Sciences|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Bui, Thanh Cong, "Perceived gender relations and sexual relations among undergraduate female students in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3397952.