Women's Empowerment and Implications for the ABC Approach to HIV/AIDS Prevention in Zambia
With the continued emphasis on utilizing preventive knowledge programs such as the Abstinence Be faithful Condoms (ABC) approach to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries, more attention must be given to whether women are sufficiently empowered to act on that knowledge. This study uses data from the 2003 Zambia Sexual Behavior Survey in order to examine whether correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention translates into a positive perception of empowerment for women. Empowerment is measured as a woman's belief in her ability to protect herself from a sexually transmitted disease (STD) if her husband has the STD. The analysis is conducted by using three HIV/AIDS knowledge indicators: basic prevention knowledge, knowledge of common HIV/AIDS misconceptions, and mother to child transmission knowledge (MTCT). The main hypothesis regarding the overall study is that knowledge is indeed a significant source of positive empowerment for women after controlling for other major factors. The logistic regression results on the overall sample indicate that the effect of correct MTCT knowledge on empowerment perception is significant and in the positive direction. However, the effect of correct misconception knowledge indicates a significant result in the negative direction and the effect of correct basic prevention knowledge does not produce a statistically significant result. The analysis is also conducted on the urban and rural populations separately and reveals some important differences. Among the urban group, both the effects of prevention knowledge and MTCT knowledge on empowerment are significant in the positive direction. Among the rural group, the effect of MTCT remains significant in the positive direction; however, misconception knowledge is again significant in the negative direction. There are also some notable differences with respect to the impacts of other major important empowerment control variables including access to condoms, employment group, and education, when analyzing the rural and urban groups separately. From a policy perspective, the main findings suggest the importance of promoting HIV/AIDS strategies that account for important regional factors. Such strategies should serve to increase not only awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention knowledge but also the level of depth of such knowledge in order for knowledge to impact empowerment perception. Further, it appears important for prevention strategies to also simultaneously engage the other major determinants of empowerment such as socioeconomic status and contraception access in order to reduce female vulnerability to HIV/AIDS contraction.
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