Gender

  • Gender integration: Making it a reality

    Why has there been so much emphasis on gender integration? What does gender integration really mean, and how is it done?

    Equal gender norms, roles and relations are key determinants of well-being across every aspect of human development. Gender inequality limits access to information, education, decision-making power, economic assets and health care. Women and girls are put at a great disadvantage because of unequal gender norms.

    Research, especially in the health and education fields, shows that when efforts are made to address gender inequalities, individuals, communities and societies benefit.

    At FHI 360, we use a Gender Integration Framework to provide practical guidance on how to analyze issues from a gender perspective and devise research and programs that identify and challenge gender-based inequalities that pose barriers to development.

    FHI 360 conducts trainings at our U.S., regional and country offices to give our staff and leadership the capacity to put the framework into practice. Gender specialists throughout the organization help ensure that our research or programs integrate gender considerations at all stages of the project cycle — from planning and design to implementation and measurement.

    This week in Tanzania, 28 technical staff from 17 FHI 360 country offices in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East will participate in our three-day gender integration workshop. The workshop will train these technical experts on how to use the framework and other tools and approaches in their day-to-day work. Participants will become Gender Focal Points, ensuring that gender remains front and center in our country and project offices.

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  • ROADS II: Transforming corridors of risk into pathways of prevention and hope

  • The theme of International Women’s Day 2013 is The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. How have we made progress on gender equality?

    We have made a lot of progress since Hillary Clinton has been in the leadership position of Secretary of State. Clinton pushed to have the development, diplomatic and even the defense communities pay attention to gender in the U.S. foreign policy arena. In addition, last year the U.S. gender policy was updated for the first time in thirty years. That was a big step forward. Gender is not only about women and girls. Gender is about the relationships between men and women, as well as the social dynamics and the norms that frequently lead to women and girls being at a disadvantage in many societies.

    How does FHI 360 integrate a gender perspective into its work?

    We developed a Gender Integration Framework, which is a set of guidelines that encourages FHI 360 staff working on programs and research to take gender issues into consideration from the start of a project through implementation. We formed a gender advisory council, which includes representatives from all of our major business units. We are also looking strategically at how we can include gender issues in proposals, provide technical assistance to our projects and more effectively talk about gender to our external audiences. I would say there is a lot of momentum and commitment to implementing our Gender Integration Framework.

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  • Integrating gender into health projects – New collection of tools available

    Are you a gender focal person in your organization looking to access programmatic evidence, tools for gender and health advocacy? Perhaps you are a program manager seeking to view guidance on integrating gender in HIV/AIDS, family planning, maternal health and youth programs or access gender training curricula and materials. Maybe you are a donor who wants to learn about key issues in gender mainstreaming and gender integration. Well, there is a new one-stop shop for you! The newly revised Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) Gender and Health Toolkit is now available.

    The Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project recently updated this electronic toolkit with input from leading gender experts. The result is a collection of carefully selected practical tools and instruments to help make programs and health systems more equitable and effective. Designed to move health practitioners, program mangers and policy makers from awareness and commitment to direct application and practice, the toolkit is a treasure trove of applied resources. This new IGWG Gender and Health Toolkit is a companion to the IGWG website and has the same goal: improvement of reproductive health/HIV/AIDS outcomes and sustainable development through the promotion of gender equity within population, health, and nutrition programs.

  • International Day of the Girl

    Today, October 11, 2012, marks the first UN International Day of the Girl.  This day has been set aside to recognize girls’ rights and the challenges they face. The theme for this year is ending child marriage.  On the UN International Day of the Girl, we are launching a series highlighting our work with girls around the world.  We invite you to participate in the conversation on twitter with #IDG and #DayoftheGirl.


  • Follow-up to the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning

    On Monday, September 17, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, hosted “Maintaining the Momentum: Highlights from the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning (FP).” This panel discussion was a virtual who’s who in family planning – with the main room full as well as two additional rooms literally overflowing – as folks gathered to hear current luminaries talk about highlights and next steps to the 2012 London FP Summit, what is now called FP2020. Panel moderator Karen Hardee, of the Futures Group, reminded us that the Summit confirmed family planning as a critical and global issue and that it set impressive goals and raised $2.6 billion dollars in pledged funding over the next eight years with the goal of expanding access to voluntary rights-based family planning for 120 million new users in poorer countries. The gathering represented a melting pot of perspectives with a mix of representation from government, civil society, and the private sector. There were lots of champagne toasts, speeches, and celebration in London, like at any wedding. Now, two months into the marriage, the hard work begins: how do we implement the summit’s lofty goals?

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  • During the month of July 2012, two landmark gatherings advanced global progress in sexual and reproductive health. The Family Planning Summit was held in London on July 11. Co-hosted by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Summit’s goal was to offer millions of vulnerable women around the world renewed hope that they will soon have the means to determine the timing and spacing of their pregnancies through access to modern family planning methods. Less than two weeks later, the AIDS 2012 Conference was held in Washington, D.C. Organized by the International AIDS Society, AIDS 2012 was a multitrack, week-long convention of 24,000 attendees, including heads of state, celebrities, philanthropists, researchers, activists and people living with HIV. Their optimistic vision is to attain an AIDS-free generation.

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  • Many of us who spend our time in the youth sexual and reproductive health (YSRH) world don’t often cross paths with those in the business of economic empowerment and livelihoods programs for young people. Although both worlds are aware of the converging paths, funding streams generally keep us operating on parallel roads. Therefore, I was pleased to facilitate a panel session this morning at the conference: “Exploring the Intersection of Adolescent Girls’ Reproductive Health and Economic Empowerment.” During a lively session, panelists shared their experiences with both issues for girls. Some of the themes were:

    • Even though we are aware of the problem, the data on SRH and economic empowerment for girls, taken together for developing countries, is shocking. The rates of HIV, maternal mortality and morbidity, poverty and isolation paint a dismal picture for girls.
    • Programs that target girls and adults in the community, with messages on both SRH and economic empowerment, are showing some successes. There’s more to learn, but results are encouraging.
    • Models that incorporate peer education and work with girls on SRH and economic empowerment show positive results: the Tesfa program led by the International Center for Research on Women, the Siyakha Nentsha program in South Africa led by Population Council, and a program by Restless Development in Northern Uganda all included a peer education component.
    • Reducing social isolation seems key for increasing both SRH and economic outcomes for girls. Girls need access to other girls for many reasons, but importantly, to give them an outlet to talk about themselves: their ideas, dreams and goals.
    • It’s important to work with the adults, not just the girls. Teachers, parents and faith leaders all play roles in girls’ lives, and we need to get them on board with difficult topics. Sex and money are not easy to discuss with young people, and the adults need to build their skills to do it.

    Today’s session initiated some vital discussion about next steps. It’s my hope that the two worlds of SRH and economic empowerment for young people will start to cross more often and begin to operate more closely together. This year’s conference is an encouraging step toward that. Look for more information on this topic, including a research brief and e-forum, by visiting the Interagency Youth Working Group website.

  • The Domino Effect of Family Planning

    Imagine a line of dominos stretched out as far as the eye can see, with additional lines branching off into the distance. This web of dominos represents the multiple connections between family planning and every dimension of sustainable development. What many still don’t comprehend is how large and far reaching this web truly is.

    We’ll begin with a simple and intuitive causal relationship: voluntary use of contraception prevents unintended pregnancies. Unintended pregnancies result in thousands of deaths globally and many more disabilities each year. Many unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. Almost half of the 40 million abortions performed each year are unsafe, placing nearly 20 million women at risk for infection, hemorrhage, disability, and death. Thus, contraception prevents unintended pregnancies and saves women’s lives.

    Dr. Ward Cates, President Emeritus at FHI 360, visits health workers that are involved with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Urban Health Initiative (UHI) in India.

    And the benefits of family planning don’t end with women. Families using contraception have fewer, healthier children and reduced economic burden. Children born to mothers who have used modern contraception in planning their families are not only more likely to have a mother, and one who is healthy, they also are more likely to have been breast fed for longer and received more parental attention, support and resources than children born in to families that were not planned. All of these factors increase the chances that they will survive infancy into childhood. Therefore, family planning also saves children’s lives. Moreover, if after childhood girls and women are given control over their fertility, they are more likely to stay in school and to get jobs. Educated, employed women are in turn more likely to use contraception, thus re-initiating the virtuous cycle of benefits that family planning brings to women and their families.

    The benefits still don’t end there. Ensuring that we can feed our growing population while protecting the planet has quickly become one of the most pressing challenges in sustainable development. Regions of the world with the highest unmet need for family planning are already forced to bear the burden of climate change effects to which they have contributed the least. These effects include drought and famine. Turning an extra acre of forest into tilled land is not a choice for a woman without access to reproductive health resources. It is a matter of survival. And it is a preventable scenario. Right now more than 200 million women worldwide want to plan and time their pregnancies but are unable to do so for lack of information and access to contraceptive resources. If the percentage of women with unmet family planning needs remains constant, developing country populations are expected hit 9.7 billion by 2050, and 25.8 billion by 2100. By filling this need, we could greatly relieve some of the combined pressures being placed on resources and communities, including a growing demand for food.

    The right and ability of women and couples to plan their families is not peripheral to the aims and objectives of Rio+20. Indeed, the call for greater attention to women’s rights and issues at Rio+20 is growing into a crescendo. Women’s Major Group is mobilizing women across the world to share their stories and ensure that women’s rights are front and center on the agenda. Over 100 of the world’s leading scientific academies have called upon world leaders to enact rational, evidence-based responses to sustainable development challenges, including global access to comprehensive reproductive health resources.

    Until now, too few people have been aware and too few leaders willing to acknowledge the essential role that family planning plays in achieving sustainable development. Rio+20 is our chance to tip this pivotal domino piece forward, and witness the measurable cascade of progress it evokes.