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Engaging Men As Partners in Reproductive Health

Gender influences women’s and men’s health in fundamental ways, and some harmful traditional ideas about gender can place both women’s and men’s health at risk.

In most parts of the world, women tend to have less education and fewer job opportunities than men, which limits their potential to control and improve their wealth and health. This reality prevents women from accessing critical health information and services and can lead to poor reproductive, maternal, and child health outcomes, including death.

At the same time, the gender norm of a strong, dominant and invulnerable male is also detrimental for men’s health. Some men refrain from seeking health information and services due to traditional notions of masculinity, where asking for help from a nurse or doctor is viewed as a sign of weakness.  In some cultures, it is accepted for men to refuse contraception, to forbid their female partners to use it, or to refuse to even discuss family planning.  These actions can lead to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, and maternal death or disability. Some men may also feel entitled to beat female partners who simply raise the issue of family planning or HIV prevention. Indeed, gender-based violence is a major contributor to the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and to poor reproductive health outcomes for women.   

Addressing gender norms is therefore essential to improving the health and well-being of both women and men. Through its Men As Partners® program and other gender initiatives, EngenderHealth works with men to:

  • Challenge traditional gender roles and attitudes about “what makes a man”
  • Enhance men’s awareness of and support for their partners’ reproductive health
  • Increase men’s access to and use of reproductive health services
  • Mobilize men to participate in promoting gender equity and taking a stand against gender-based violence

EngenderHealth is also an organizing member of a global alliance called MenEngage, which is committed to encouraging men and boys to participate in gender equality and violence prevention projects.

EngenderHealth currently has gender activities in 18 countries. Our projects promote gender equity and support the right of women and men to healthier, better lives.

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