Gender transformative approaches (GTA) are programs and interventions that create opportunities for individuals to actively challenge gender norms, promote positions of social and political influence for women in communities, and address power inequities between persons of different genders.
GTA create an enabling environment for gender transformation by going beyond just including women as participants. GTA are part of a continuum of gender integration, or the integration of gender issues into all aspects of program and policy conceptualization, development, implementation and evaluation. In the context of health and SBCC, GTA address multi-leveled power hierarchies in communities that impede an individual’s ability to make decisions about his/her health. For women, this can include (but is not limited to) health decisions such as access to health services, condom use, partner reduction, and birth spacing. These approaches strive to shift gendered community perspectives and social relationships towards perspectives of equality that allow both women and men to achieve their full potential within a society. Accordingly, GTA go beyond improving health access for women alone, but include benefits for men that also affect women’s health and empowerment, such as encouraging HIV-related service use among men and increasing men’s contraceptive use. Research on GTA shows that women’s empowerment and greater gender equality are ends as well as a means to better health for families and communities as a whole.
Gender inequality and community dynamics in relationship to women’s and men’s roles can have a significant impact on SBCC program success. Thus, implementers should strive to integrate gender transformative approaches in all aspects of SBCC programming and policy, including program design, implementation and evaluation. Initial steps towards addressing gender disparities can start with performing gender based analysis during formative research. Programming steps can include something as simple as including gender sensitivity training in institutional capacity-building efforts. SBCC can be used to increase awareness of inequalities within the community and encourage critical assessments of existing harmful gender stereotypes. Starting a conversation about gender and presenting individuals and communities with an opportunity to reflect critically on how gender norms affect the well-being of individuals, families and communities is a key first step to transform the status quo of gender inequality towards one of egalitarianism.
WHAT SHOULD IMPLEMENTERS KNOW?
Incorporating measurement of gender indicators into SBCC program implementation and evaluation is critical to determining whether or not GTA have been successful at changing gender norms and behaviors within communities. A variety of gender measurement scales and other resources are available to guide implementers who want to measure the outcomes of GTA. Gender-based analysis (GBA) involves understanding how health differences between men and women can be related back to the different roles and responsibilities that culture assigns men and women, particularly around power and decision-making. GBA uses both quantitative and qualitative data collection to examine gender roles and norms, and provides meaning and context for why men and women behave in certain ways when interacting with the health system. Gender scales can be used to assess these behaviors and health interactions, such as the Gender Beliefs Scale, the Gender Equitable Men Scale, and the Women’s Empowerment Scale. Additionally, the Gender Equality Continuum Tool (GEC), developed by the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) Gender equality and improved health outcomes Gender-Based Analysis Program Design Program Implementation Program Evaluation Gender Transformative Approaches outlines a series of steps that represent where an SBCC program sits on the path from “Gender Exploitative” to “Gender Transformative.” The GEC also includes a series of questions that can help implementers assess how well SBCC interventions are currently addressing gender considerations, and to determine how best to move along the continuum toward more transformative gender programming. Taking the GEC into consideration during both program planning and evaluation can help ensure gender transformative approaches are being used effectively. To the right is a table with a few sample indicators for monitoring and evaluating GTA. This is only a small sample of the many possible indicators that can be used for measurement of gender transformation within a community. In addition, gender-linked assumptions that could affect the program or activity’s success should be continuously monitored.
Engaging men and boys as participants and stakeholders in gender-based violence (GBV) prevention initiatives is an increasingly institutionalized component of global efforts to end GBV. Accordingly, evidence of the impact of men’s engagement endeavors is beginning to emerge, particularly regarding interventions aimed at fostering gender equitable and nonviolent attitudes and behaviors among men. This developing evidence base suggests that prevention programs with a “gender transformative” approach, or an explicit focus on questioning gender norms and expectations, show particular promise in achieving GBV prevention outcomes. Interventions targeting attitude and behavior change, however, represent just one kind of approach within a heterogeneous collection of prevention efforts around the globe, which can also include community mobilization, policy change, and social activism. The degree to which gender transformative principles inform this broader spectrum of men’s engagement work is unclear. The goals of this article are twofold. First, we offer a conceptual model that captures and organizes a broader array of men’s antiviolence activities in three distinct but interrelated domains: (1) initial outreach and recruitment of previously unengaged males, (2) interventions intended to promote gender-equitable attitudes and behavior among men, and (3) gender equity-related social action aimed at eradicating GBV, inclusive of all genders’ contributions. Second, we review empirical literature in each of these domains. Across these two goals, we critically assess the degree to which gender transformative principles inform efforts within each domain, and we offer implications for the continuing conceptualization and assessment of efforts to increase men’s participation in ending GBV.