The impact of gender, sexuality, and social institutions on sexual behavior and reproductive health among youth in Bohol, Philippines

Date of Completion

January 2005


Anthropology, Cultural|Health Sciences, Public Health




This dissertation examines Filipino youths' understandings of gender roles and their impact on the sexual and reproductive behavior of male and female youth. The research used a variety of qualitative, quantitative and participatory research methods to elicit information about how young Filipino men and women conceptualize social and gender roles and the factors that shape these roles, the influence of gender roles on sexual behavior, issues of couple communication and strategies to increase male involvement in sexual and reproductive decision-making. The goal was to understand these issues from the perspective of young people themselves. Interviews were conducted with 53 key Filipino professionals and community leaders in four major cities including Manila, Cebu City, Panabo City, Mindanao, and Tagbilaran City, Bohol; and with 96 Filipino in and out of school youth age 13 to 25 in Tagbilaran City between September 2001 and August 2002. Results reveal that there is a sexual double standard which gives young men more sexual freedom than young women who are expected to remain virgin until marriage and faithful thereafter. Despite religious and socio-cultural opposition to pre-marital sex and the provision of sexual and reproductive health services and information to unmarried youth in the Philippines, a growing percentage of young people particularly young men have unsafe pre-marital sex. ^ Unsafe premarital sex is common among young men who tend to have multiple sexual partners which include girlfriends, female commercial sex workers and gay men. Young people receive most of their information about sex and reproduction from unreliable sources (i.e., friends, media) or biased sources (i.e., school curriculum, Church youth program and parents). Discussions about sexual and reproductive matters generally take place between friends or barkadas of the same gender but only rarely with sexual partners. In order to foster sexual and reproductive health among youth, respondents suggested the establishment of a youth center that would provide free, confidential, non judgmental sexual and reproductive health information and services to youth. ^