Gender influences women’s and men’s health in fundamental ways; harmful and rigid expectations about what men and women can or should do can place both women’s and men’s health at risk. For example, gender norms that define men as strong may discourage them from seeking health services as they might view asking for help from a nurse or doctor as a sign of weakness. Similarly, norms characterizing women as submissive can undermine their ability to negotiate condom use with male partners. Other consequences associated with the complex interplay of harmful gender norms include depression, gender-based violence (GBV), early marriage, unintended pregnancy, and increased risk of HIV.
EngenderHealth seeks to ensure that every program has taken steps to address how gender inequalities impact their programs and desired health outcomes.
Since 1996, we have pioneered programs that challenge gender inequities and transform gender norms in ways that promote health and social justice (using gender-transformative strategies). For example, our Men As Partners program engages men and boys to promote gender equality and prevent violence against women. This award-winning approach has been implemented in more than 30 countries across Asia and Africa and in the United States.
In addition, we are implementing gender programs that purposefully promote equality among both men/boys and women/girls, with the understanding that both sexes need to be engaged in redefining gender norms within their communities. This gender-synchronized approach is unique, as most gender programs focus on just men or women. To date, we have implemented and evaluated successful gender-synchronized programs in Angola, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the United States.
EngenderHealth also undertakes broader advocacy efforts, including our role as a founding member of MenEngage, a global alliance committed to research, interventions, and policy efforts aimed at engaging men and boys in gender equality.
Current gender activities include:
Burundi: We are working to prevent and respond to GBV by engaging men and boys; training health care sites to better provide GBV services; and supporting improved national coordination of GBV response and prevention efforts, among other activities.
Tanzania: We are currently a partner in an HIV project working toward reducing vulnerabilities for men who have sex with men, female sex workers, and adolescent girls. We also increased men’s involvement in HIV prevention by reducing high-risk sexual behaviors, promoting fidelity, reducing men’s number of sexual partners, eliminating GBV, and increasing the use of sexual and reproductive health services.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Prevention Research: We have developed IPV prevention curricula for men, women, and couples as part of two randomized controlled trials, in Tanzania (with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and in Ethiopia (with J-PAL). Both studies are ongoing; results will be available by 2017.
Texas: We are working with adolescents to address teen pregnancy prevention by looking at the impacts of gender norms on sexual behaviors.