Empowering Women and Men to Prevent Violence and Promote Health Together

EngenderHealth and GreeneWorks highlighted a new generation of gender-synchronized programs that are engaging both women and men, girls and boys to challenge inequitable gender norms. The parallel session, held during the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, focused on three ongoing rigorous studies. These included updates on a joint project with EngenderHealth and JPAL in Ethiopia, the Gender Matters project in Austin, Texas, and an intervention by Promundo focused on promoting equitable male and female roles in caregiving, in Rwanda.

The session began with Margaret Greene of GreeneWorks welcoming the audience and setting the context for the term “gender synchronization.” She explained that while gender-transformative programs that work with men or with women are worthwhile, often it is working with men and women or boys and girls together that can catalyze more rapid change. This was illustrated by the presentations that followed.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive challenge in Ethiopia. An innovative intervention by EngenderHealth and JPAL reaches out to couples through the traditional coffee ceremony to promote gender-equitable practices and prevent IPV. The presentation Gender-Transformative Cultural Ceremonies to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence and HIV in Ethiopia (PDF, 1.8 MB), by Fabio Verani, MPH, Senior Technical Advisor on Gender, EngenderHealth, captures insights from this project.

Adolescents and young people must have access to comprehensive information and services to make empowered choices. Gender Matters in Austin, Texas, aims to address the high numbers of teenage pregnancy within the state by engaging young people in challenging harmful constructions of masculinity and femininity. The presentation EngenderHealth’s U.S. Programs Office: Empowering Young People for Better Outcomes (PDF, 2.1 MB), by Jenifer DeAtley, Director, U.S. Programs and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor, EngenderHealth, captures the journey so far.

The discussion with the audience was an engaging one. It highlighted the importance of measuring the outcomes of interventions, as well as the need to capture such good practices for replication. When working with men and boys, challenging traditional perceptions of masculinity must be part of the gender equality agenda. We need to include men and boys as strategic allies and partners to create a more equal world.