Gender dynamics and sexual norms among youth in Mali in the context of HIV/AIDS prevention

  • C Boileau
  • B Vissandjee
  • V-K Nguyen
  • S Rashed
  • M Sylla
  • MV Zunzunegui
Keywords: Gender roles, sexual behaviour, parental norms, HIV/AIDS, young people, Sub-Saharan Africa


Socially constructed ideas of gender norms and values attached to sexuality need to be considered when aiming to build the young people’s capacity to adopt HIV preventive behaviours. We conducted ten focus groups and sixteen individual interviews to explore sexual norms among youth in Bamako. Premarital sex, multiple partnering, condom
use and transactional sex were discussed. The findings suggest that young people’s sexual norms are shaped by kin or authoritative elders as well as by external influences coming from Western culture. Sexual norms are differentially constructed by men and women and are in contradiction with those of older generations. Views on premarital sex, condom use and transactional sex generated controversy among men and women, as well as among more sexually conservative or progressive youth. However, there was general rejection of multiple partnerships. Empowering youth to pursue open debates on sexuality may be an avenue for HIV/AIDS prevention in Mali (Afr J Reprod Health 2008; 12[3]:173-184).

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eISSN: 1118-4841