There is a diversity of cultural, social, economic, structural, and institutional drivers behind young men and boys’ health behaviors. More evidence is needed to document what works in achieving large-scale, long-term change. Young men and boys are not a homogenous group and should not be treated as such; there is a variety of sexual identities, practices, relations, and held beliefs about gender among young men and boys. Engaging them to improve their health and to examine and tackle harmful gender norms is essential to making gains for both adolescent boys and girls, and men and women. Young men and boys can also serve as champions of women and girls’ health, and many do — as doctors, nurses, public health practitioners, husbands, fathers, and friends.
There is growing recognition of this importance of including men and boys in reproductive health (RH)-related work.. Often, adhering to traditional gender roles can cause disproportionate health risks for women and girls. Women and girls may have to ask their father, husband, or brother for permission to use contraception, to purchase sanitary products, or to receive medical services. Young men and boys may withhold health care, put their own well-being (or that of other male family members) ahead of the well-being of women and girls, and refuse to engage in behaviors to prevent pregnancy or the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Working with young men and boys on RH and other health-related issues is often motivated by the desire to improve outcomes for young women and girls by changing male behavior, but boys and young men need knowledge for their own sake as well. There is also evidence that current gender norms and constructions of masculinity put young men and boys at an increased risk for a range of negative health outcomes related to STIs and unintended pregnancy.
Adolescent Boys And Young Men: Engaging Them As Supporters Of Gender Equality And Health And Understanding Their Vulnerabilities
“This report highlights the importance of engaging adolescent boys and young men in reproductive health and rights and in gender equality. It reviews current research on boys’ and young men’s specific risks and realities – and the implications for women and girls – in relation to their general health status, violence, sexuality and reproductive health, media violence, sexual exploitation, and other vulnerabilities. The report reviews concrete ways to work with adolescent boys and young men on reproductive health services, comprehensive sexuality education, fatherhood and caregiving, and the elimination of violence against women and girls.” (2016)
“This manual outlines CARE’s experience in working with young male migrants and serves as a guiding tool for frontline workers, mediators and educators in their work with young men with a migration background.” (2018).
This USAID Breakthrough Action tool “offers guidance on how to advocate with various audiences to bring about further investment in, commitment to, and implementation of male engagement to improve family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) outcomes. Users should adapt and expand upon the tool according to their specific needs.” (2019)
“This guide builds on reviews of male engagement strategies for family planning 1-8 and is informed by recognized experts in the field. Throughout the steps below, programs should address the specific contexts and diverse needs of program beneficiaries. Examples within each step illustrate how to identify relevant gaps and issues and offer programming approaches to consider. The first priority of any family planning program when considering partner engagement is to respect the client’s preference of whether to engage her partner and to do so in equitable ways that protect and encourage women's autonomy.” (2014)
Working with Men and Boys to End Violence Against Women and Girls Approaches, Challenges, and Lessons
This report provides suggested approaches, challenges and lessons learned from the peer-reviewed and grey literature, across five sectors, from the Global South. The sectors explored include economic growth, trade and agriculture; education; governance, law enforcement and justice; conflict, post-conflict and humanitarian assistance; and social development. (2014)
This USAID “paper draws from a review of 47 interventions that reached men and proposes 10 key considerations for strengthening programming for men as contraceptive users. A review of programming shows that men and boys are not particularly well served by programs. Most programs operate from the perspective that women are contraceptive users and that men should support their partners, with insufficient attention to reaching men as contraceptive users in their own right.” (2017)
Engendering Men: A Collaborative Review of Evidence on Men and Boys in Social Change and Gender Equality
This evidence summary highlights lessons from a literature review of evidence on men and boys in relation to social change and gender equality. Designed to help answer the question, “What works best when it comes to engaging men and boys for gender equality?,” this report assesses trends and shifts in social norms and structures over the past 20 years; successful policies and program; implications for best practices; and future directions for promoting male support for gender equality (2015).
The Making Of Sexual Violence: How Does a Boy Grow Up to Commit Rape? Evidence from Five IMAGES Countries
This report shares data from the International Men and Gender Equality Study (IMAGES) study and builds on previous evidence regarding the tremendous levels of sexual violence that women and girls face around the world. This violence takes many forms, occurs in all types of households, is endemic to “peacetime” as well as conflict, and has devastating intergenerational effects. At the same time, the report identifies factors that point the way towards policies and programs to prevent violence before it happens and to mitigate its harmful effects. The men interviewed in the IMAGES study reported rates of perpetrating sexual violence that in most cases met or exceeded the level of violence reported by women. Male respondents’ attitudes related to gender spanned a range of views, from the rigidly traditional to the more progressive and equitable. This suggests that men across the world hold diverse, shifting views about how men and women should relate (2014).
Be a Man, Change the Rules: Findings and Lessons from Seven Years of CARE International Balkans’ Young Men Initiative
This synthesis report provides an overview of the “Young Men Initiative” (YMI) program’s rationale, design, and evaluation results from YMI’s implementation in vocational high schools. For the past seven years, a coalition of local, regional, and international organizations has been promoting positive masculine identities through this program. Coordinated by CARE International Balkans, implemented by collaborating institutions in four countries, and evaluated by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), YMI seeks to promote a lifestyle that prioritizes good health, nonviolence, and gender equality through a combination of educational workshops and community campaigns (2014).
Engaging Coaches and Athletes in Fostering Gender Equity Findings from the Parivartan Program in Mumbai, India
Parivartan, which means transformation, engaged cricket coaches and mentors in schools and the community to teach boys lessons about controlling aggression, preventing violence, and promoting respect. The program engages coaches as positive role models and trains them to deliver messages to their male athletes about the importance of respecting women and understanding violence never equals strength. This report describes the three-year program and summarizes key findings from the evaluation conducted by ICRW (2012).
This report presents background about and rationale for engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and reproductive health and rights. It illustrates a range of initiatives that have successfully engaged men and boys (2013).
This report, part of the annual Because I am a Girl series, focuses on the role of men and boys in creating gender equality and real improvements in the lives of girls. The report includes primary research with more than 4,000 children, revealing that many stereotypical beliefs about gender roles in society are still entrenched among the world's young people (2011).
Men-Streaming in Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV: A Toolkit for Policy Development and Advocacy
Programs about reproductive health and HIV are likely to have a greater impact on communities if they constructively address the actual and potential role of men and boys in society. At present, however, many such programs often fail to target men, to address their specific needs, or to understand the wider influence of male and female gender norms. This toolkit helps organizations create and advocate for affirmative policies that promote the positive roles that men can play in improving their own reproductive health—and the health of women and children (2010).
Many researchers and programmers are exploring opportunities to work with girls and boys to overcome discrimination and build a more gender-equitable world. This paper argues for a gender and developmental perspective to explore "what boys have to do with the 'girls effect.'" This approach seeks to better understand gendered behavior in adolescents over their life cycle. Such a perspective can be used to develop programs and undertake policy efforts to promote equitable and healthy gender identities and norms with benefits for both girls and boys (2010).
Promoting More Gender-equitable Norms and Behaviors Among Young Men as an HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy
There is growing evidence that risk of acquiring HIV/STIs for both young men and young women is linked to early socialization that promotes certain gender roles as the norm. This document examines the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve young men's attitudes toward gender norms and to reduce HIV/STI risk (2006).
This toolkit provides program guidance for engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and health. Specific topics include sexual and reproductive health, maternal, newborn, and child health, fatherhood, HIV/AIDS, and gender-based violence prevention. In addition to program examples, this toolkit contains guidance on advocacy, needs assessment, and monitoring and evaluation related to efforts to engage men and boys (2010).
Young Men and the Construction of Masculinity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Implications for HIV/AIDS, Conflict, and Violence
This report provides a review of the literature on men and masculinities, conflict, and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan and examples of programs that apply a gender perspective to work with young men (2005).