The Uncommon Man

August 06, 2007

Gender Norms and Reproductive Health

The following is an informal report from Piotr M. Pawlak, a colleague in Washington DC. Piotr is the Human Rights and International Relations Specialist for Amnesty International USA, and Government Relations Fellow, Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia. He actively participates in international forums on issues related to gender-based violence, gender equality and reproductive health. We will publish these reports regularly as Piotr updates us on his meetings and activities.


On Thursday, August 2, 2007, I participated in a panel presentation: "Are Gender Norms A 'Gateway Factor' To Reproductive Health Behaviors? The reliability and validity of a behavioral index for predicting multiple FP/RH and HIV/AIDS behaviors" - Preliminary Results from a Study with Ethiopian Married Men.

Participants included:
By: Dr. Susan Middlestadt, Indiana University
Dr. Julie Pulerwitz, Horizons Program
Dr. Karabi Acharya, Geeta Nanda, Bridget Lombardo, AED

Background information:
Currently, the Health Communications Partnership (HCP), in collaboration with the Horizons Program (HP), is implementing research focused on gender norms and a range of health behaviors (e.g. condom use, practice of abstinence, modern contraceptive use).

Panelists agreed that gender norms are social expectations about how men and women should behave due to the fact they are men ad women; and since these expectations influence many behaviours, gender norms might operate as a gateway factor.

Panelists presented findings on a new behavioral index on gender norms as a factor that affects multiple health behaviors of interest to FP/RH/HIV programs. The index sheds light on how support for (in)equitable gender norms is associated with or predicts an array of behaviors (a Behaviour Index is a composite measure that captures the performance of a number of behaviours; beyond 2 or 3 key behaviours). Presenters shared new research data on the reliability and validity of the GEM ("Gender Equitable Men") Scale across several country settings (India, Ethiopia, Brazil).

Presenters agreed that GEM Scale is related to Index of Intimate Partner Behaviours and is related to 10 individual intimate partner behaviours (I have a detailed list of such correlations available). However, GEM Scale is not related to several individual behaviours, particularly violence behaviours:

- hit or slap your wife
- yell at your wife when a meal is late
- brag with other men how many women you had sex with
- speak up in public against hitting women
- have sex with someone when they did not want to
- help around the house with cooking or cleaning
- tell your wife you were unhappy or afraid.

Although, the study focused on men to measure their gender norms change, some attendees asked how to use the same approach to female gender norms change about men. According to the panelists, that is a next step in the HCP/HP research, but there are no preliminary results
available yet.

Final study implications for other programs was to invest more resources in intervention to improve gender norms, and include explicit discussion of gender norms in Behaviour Change Communication.

I hope this of some interest and help.

In addition, just a few days ago I found this very interesting publication prepared by Margaret Greene for the Interagency Gender Working Group. It lays out many of the key resources for working with men and provides a framework for distinguishing among varied programs, illustrating the range with strong examples. I thought you may be interested.


Piotr M. Pawlak, M.A.
Human Rights and International Relations Specialist
Amnesty International USA, Government Relations Fellow
Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia
19 T. Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002, USA


Posted by Daniel at August 6, 2007 01:12 PM


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