Exploring intergenerational changes in perceptions of gender roles and sexuality among Indigenous women in Oaxaca

Tahilin S. Karver, Annik Sorhaindo, Kate S. Wilson, Xipatl Contreras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The south of Mexico has traditionally faced disproportionate social, health and economic disadvantage relative to the rest of the country, due in part to lower levels of economic and human development, and barriers faced by Indigenous populations. The state of Oaxaca, in particular, has one of the highest proportions of Indigenous people and consistently displays high rates of maternal mortality, sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancy. This study examines how social values and norms surrounding sexuality have changed between two generations of women living in Indigenous communities in Oaxaca. We conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 19 women from two generational cohorts in 12 communities. Comparison views of these two cohorts suggest that cultural gender norms continue to govern how women express and experience their sexuality. In particular, feelings of shame and fear permeate the expression of sexuality, virginity continues be a determinant of a woman’s worth and motherhood remains the key attribute to womanhood. Evidence points to a transformation of norms, and access to information and services related to sexual health is increasing. Nonetheless, there is still a need for culturally appropriate sex education programmes focused on female empowerment, increased access to sexual health services, and a reduction in the stigma surrounding women’s expressions of sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-859
Number of pages15
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender roles
  • Indigenous communities
  • Oaxaca
  • Sex education
  • Social programmes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring intergenerational changes in perceptions of gender roles and sexuality among Indigenous women in Oaxaca'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this