SBCC Materials Gender-Sensitivity Checklist

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Questions Gender-Neutral Gender-Sensitive Gender-Transformative
Traditional Practices
Does the material show women and men involved in traditional practices (i.e. bride price, etc.) which could be interpreted to promote gender inequality? Are the traditional roles/traditional practices essential to the message being communicated? If not, can other images/ situations be used instead? Avoid depicting traditional practices unless they are the focus of the intervention (e.g., prevention of female genital mutilation/cutting). Think of how you can challenge traditional roles. Can you represent men and women actively questioning and reflecting on rigid gender roles?
Note: Presenting traditional practices simply to “set the scene” can end up legitimizing these same practices. An example could be including a traditional practice like lobola, where women are presented as “property.” Avoiding these traditional practices is not meant as a condemnation of the practice. However, some of them can promote inequity, and there is often no benefit to including them.

Feminization of Health-Care Services
Are the messages and images in health-care materials primarily targeting women?
Begin to include images of men or of couples (as well as women) whenever appropriate. Include images and messages for men (as well as women) which promote male involvement in SRH whenever appropriate. Create materials which target men specifically and which challenge gender norms keeping men from seeking health services.
Note: Many men see SRH, and health care in general, as a primarily female arena. Images which feminize health in general can reaffirm an impression that caring for oneself and using health services is a feminine trait.

Traditional Gender Roles
Are men and women primarily represented in traditional gender roles (i.e., women caring for children and doing housework, men making the main decisions, men being the provider, women being submissive)?
Avoid using images of men and women in traditional gender roles. If you must use messages which relate to traditional gender norms, include others which are more equitable. For example, a message asking men to financially support their partners’ use of family planning (men as providers) can be mixed with messages asking men to discuss and participate in family planning and to respect their partner’s decisions regarding family planning. Actively challenge traditional gender norms and ask men (and women) to equitably share responsibility for sexual and reproductive health, as well as caregiving, decision-making, and household chores.
Note: Presenting these traditional gender roles, especially in the context of health or other social programming, can end up legitimizing them.

Using Gender Inequitably
Does the way in which gender is integrated into programming or messaging inadvertently promote inequitable norms?
Avoid using gender norms to highlight a perceived health risk unless you are able to spend the time to analyse their interaction and are able to communicate the complexity of those gender norms. Only mix in gender issues which are relevant to the goals of the specific campaign, and even then conduct qualitative research to understand the relationship between gender and desired behaviour change. Actively identify and analyse gender issues and challenge inequitable gender norms broadly.
Note: For example, a campaign to reduce women’s alcohol consumption referred to sexual violence as a consequence of drinking. (It was subsequently removed after backlash.) While this reasoning is intended to serve as a deterrent to alcohol abuse, it creates serious harm by leaving the impression that women who drink are in part responsible for any sexual violence they may experience.

“Real” Men and Women
Do you ask men or women to behave like “real” men or women? Avoid any reference to “real” men or women. Avoid any reference to “real” men or women. Avoid any reference to “real” men or women. Ideally a gender-transformative project will instead question the notion that there are “real” men or women and will promote gender equality more broadly.
Note: A strategy in which the term “real men” or “real women” is being used as an attempt to turn the issue on its head and question traditional gender norms can at times be effective. Though some campaigns use this strategy, it has to be done with extreme care, as the perceived need to prove manhood (or womanhood) is in and of itself a norm which needs to be questioned. Also, the concept of a specific category of “real men or women” excludes many men or women.

Are you using simplistic or overly generalized representations of masculinities or femininities?
If using representations of traditional masculinities, do not use caricatures. Many men can hold very inequitable views while holding more equitable views at the same time. For example, a man may believe that women and men should have equal opportunities and pay at work, but he may also believe that women should provide the majority of caregiving for their children. Hold focus group discussions to better understand masculinities and femininities in the project area and develop positive examples of gender-equitable men and women.

If using representations of traditional masculinities, do not use caricatures.
Use images of positive deviants (i.e., men who are equitable in their relationships or women who are empowered) to demonstrate that gender roles can be flexible if we so choose and that you do not have to fit into a “gender box.” If you choose to portray a negative gender norm, do not use a caricature of a “traditional” man or woman and provide an alternative to this negative norm.
Note: There is no one version of masculinity or femininity in any society. Oversimplifying can make it hard for the audience to identify with the messages you create.

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