Examining vulnerability and resilience in maternal, newborn and child health through a gender lens in low-income and middle-income countries: a scoping review
Sule, F.A.; Uthman, O.A.; Olamijuwon, E.O.; Ichegbo, N.K.; Mgbachi, I.C.; Okusanya, B.; Makinde, O.A.
Bmj Global Health 7(4)
Gender lens application is pertinent in addressing inequities that underlie morbidity and mortality in vulnerable populations, including mothers and children. While gender inequities may result in greater vulnerabilities for mothers and children, synthesising evidence on the constraints and opportunities is a step in accelerating reduction in poor outcomes and building resilience in individuals and across communities and health systems. We conducted a scoping review that examined vulnerability and resilience in maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) through a gender lens to characterise gender roles, relationships and differences in maternal and child health. We conducted a comprehensive search of peer-reviewed and grey literature in popular scholarly databases, including PubMed, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost and Google Scholar. We identified and analysed 17 published studies that met the inclusion criteria for key gendered themes in maternal and child health vulnerability and resilience in low-income and middle-income countries. Six key gendered dimensions of vulnerability and resilience emerged from our analysis: (1) restricted maternal access to financial and economic resources; (2) limited economic contribution of women as a result of motherhood; (3) social norms, ideologies, beliefs and perceptions inhibiting women's access to maternal healthcare services; (4) restricted maternal agency and contribution to reproductive decisions; (5) power dynamics and experience of intimate partner violence contributing to adverse health for women, children and their families; (6) partner emotional or affective support being crucial for maternal health and well-being prenatal and postnatal. This review highlights six domains that merit attention in addressing maternal and child health vulnerabilities. Recognising and understanding the gendered dynamics of vulnerability and resilience can help develop meaningful strategies that will guide the design and implementation of MNCH programmes in low-income and middle-income countries.