Let’s celebrate the advancement of women’s health around the world, as well as the men who are our partners in this effort.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2013 is “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum,” emphasizing the important role that gender plays in the health and well-being of women, their families, and communities.

Since 1996, EngenderHealth has led the way in engaging Men As Partners® to improve
women’s reproductive and sexual health
and end violence against women.

Scroll down to watch videos and learn about our gender work from Tanzania to Texas and around the world.

In Tanzania, we engage men to take a stand against violence and HIV.

On March 7, 2013, EngenderHealth was awarded the 2nd Avon Communications Awards: Speaking Out About Violence Against Women for our CHAMPION Project work to end violence against women.

Learn about our award-winning CHAMPION Project in Tanzania, where we partner with communities to speak out about violence against women and about the crucial role that men have to play in fighting the twin epidemics of HIV and violence.

Above, four videos will play. The first provides background on the CHAMPION Project. The remaining three are television advertisements that ran in Tanzania, encouraging men to fight gender-based violence.

In Texas, we help teens protect themselves against pregnancy, disease, and violence.

Learn about Gender Matters (or “Gen.M”), our innovative project that is helping adolescent boys and girls protect themselves against pregnancy, disease, and violence in Austin, Texas, where teenage pregnancy rates are among the highest in the United States.

In the United States and around the world, we’re engaging men in women’s health.

Above: Andrew Levack, Senior Technical Advisor on our Gender Matters program, discusses gender issues with teenagers in Austin, Texas.
Inset: Fabio Verani is Technical Advisor on Gender and Men As Partners®.

In honor of International Women’s Day 2013, “Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum,” we interviewed two of our gender experts, Andrew Levack, MPH, Senior Technical Advisor and lead on our Gender Matters (“Gen.M”) program in Austin, Texas, and Fabio Verani, MPH, Technical Advisor on our Gender and Men As Partners® program. Learn more from the experts why it’s critical to engage men in women’s health in the United States and around the world.

Why engage men in family planning and reproductive health?

Andrew: Research indicates that women’s contraceptive use is much higher when their male partners approve of family planning. Men can also play a critical role in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity by recognizing when a woman is experiencing complications during pregnancy, and helping to decide if and when she should go for maternal health care.

Fabio: Men can also actively work to change negative attitudes in their peers. Men are often more willing to listen to other men. For instance, we can work with men who do not engage in gender-based violence to speak out against it amongst their male peers. Our CHAMPION Project in Tanzania is a perfect example of how we’ve engaged men to fight HIV and violence. We’ve seen success in working with men to talk about their stories and to reflect on their roles as men, and then to become leaders and mentors for other men in their communities. 


What are some of the similarities and differences in our work with men and boys internationally and in the United States?

Andrew: The Men As Partners approach that we developed in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America brings participants together to become aware of, question, and redefine potentially harmful messages about what it means to be a man. We have used this approach in international settings to address maternal health, HIV, and gender-based violence. More recently in Austin, Texas, we are now applying it to prevent teenage pregnancy. In both international and domestic settings, we have found that men respond positively to a learning environment that is participatory, is safe, and allows time for reflection and introspection. We learned early from our international experience that change in gender-related attitudes is more likely to occur when messages are reinforced beyond an educational workshop. To do this in other countries, we mobilize marches around certain days like Father’s Day; we organize public events and performances; and we use posters and media spots. In Austin, we are using documentary video, SMS text messaging, and Facebook campaigns to keep participants engaged months after our workshops end.

It’s a cutting-edge approach to bring men and women together to discuss health and gender, as we do in Tanzania and in Texas. What’s the philosophy behind this approach, and what needs to happen next?

Fabio: The philosophy is that gender is relational. For instance, if the norm is that men should be the breadwinners, then the norm for women is often that they should be the primary caregivers. We have realized that it’s harder to create change within a community, or at a larger scale, without working with both men and women together. Even if our programming does not work with both men and women, we can at least make sure that programs working only with men or only with women are coordinated with one another.

Andrew: Moving forward, we need other large-scale sexual and reproductive health programs to address gender within their work. We also need national ministries of health, school districts, and national education plans to institutionalize policies related to gender equality.

Fabio: And we need more research coming from the field, especially research that shows the impact of these types of programs.


In which countries can you report the most significant impact from our Men As Partners and gender work?

Fabio: In Ethiopia, Men As Partners changed attitudes among young men around gender and impacted their behavior. Participants who were engaged in the workshop—but not those in a control group—reported that they used less violence over time and that their communication around condom use and HIV risks improved. In Tanzania, our CHAMPION Project has been successful in working with 350,000 people, most of whom are men, to prevent the transmission of HIV and to address associated gender issues, such as gender-based violence. And some very exciting news: Our campaign materials—television spot and print—for this project have just won this year’s Avon Global Communication Award: Speaking Out about Violence Against Women. We received the award at the United Nations on March 7.

This International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the advancement of women’s health around the world, as well as the men who are our partners in this effort.

Learn more about EngenderHealth’s work around the world with women, men, and families! Watch our videos, read our stories, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to our free e-newsletter.