To eliminate violence against women and girls and improve everyone’s health, programs must tackle inequitable beliefs and power disparities with everyone in society who holds them.

During the recent UN Women Commission on the Status of Women, EngenderHealth and GreeneWorks organized a parallel event examining current practices and the latest research on a new generation of “gender synchronized” programs that are engaging young and adult men and women to challenge gender norms and catalyze the achievement of gender equality and improved sexual and reproductive health.

Gender norms influence our health and well-being in fundamental ways, whether they support violence against women, lead individuals to take risks, or limit access to and use of essential reproductive health services. Public health programs that address gender inequality have tended to focus on the transformation of gender norms with a targeted focus on either women and girls, or men and boys. But there are significant limits to working exclusively with one sex or the other.

The gender synchronization concept: Margaret Greene of GreeneWorks spoke about this concept – the intentional intersection of gender-transformative efforts reaching women, girls, men and boys of all sexual orientations and gender identities. With support from USAID, GreeneWorks is updating the original white paper to reflect many new program examples, to reflect advances in evaluation, and to reinforce the non-heteronormative nature of the concept.

Gender Transformative Cultural Ceremonies to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence and HIV in Ethiopia: Fabio Verani of EngenderHealth described a study in Ethiopia that is measuring the impact of a gender transformative group education approach applied together with the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The curricula for all three arms were developed by EngenderHealth.  The study was designed and carried out by JPAL along with partners Ethiopian Public Health Association and Addis Ababa University.  It will compare the impact in three different study arms: 1) women only 2) men only and 3) couples. The study results will be available in early 2017. 

EngenderHealth’s U.S. Programs: Empowering Young People for Better Outcomes: Jenifer DeAtley of EngenderHealth shared preliminary results of the Gender Matters Project, an intervention study taking place in Austin Texas with 14-16 year old urban youth of color. The project undertakes a gender- transformative, gender-synchronized approach to engaging young people in decision-making about their own sexual health, and focuses on important healthy relationship factors such as communication and consent. The project underwent a 5-year randomized control trial study through 2015 with Mathematica Policy Research, and supported by Columbia University, and is preparing to release outcome findings

MenCare+ Programming for Couples: The Experience of Bandebereho in Rwanda: Ruti Levtov of Promundo-US presented about the Bandebereho/MenCare+ couples; intervention in Rwanda. The intervention, implemented by the Rwanda Men's Resource Center with technical support from Promundo, engages new and expecting fathers and their partners in a 15-week gender-transformative group education process (based on Program P). The objectives of the intervention were to: promote men’s involvement as caregiving partners in maternal, newborn and child health; promote gender equality within couples, including the equitable division of caregiving and domestic work; and prevent violence against women and violence against children. Results from a randomized control trial will be forthcoming later this year.



Photo caption/credit: Students form a human tower during the festival of La Mercè in Spain. © 2014 Rzewuski, Courtesy of Photoshare.