“Getting to Equal” report authors (from the left), Tim Shand, Annaick Miller, and Christopher Hook.
For more than two decades, sexual and reproductive health issues have made up 14 percent of the global burden of disease. The inability to meet individuals’ basic sexual and reproductive health needs—such as access to contraception and to sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment—poses a critical threat to the well-being of people worldwide. So say Tim Shand, Annaick Miller, and Christopher Hook, authors of “Getting to Equal,” a new report by Promundo-US, the international gender equality organization based in Washington, DC.
Around the world, cis women, nonbinary, and transgender people continue to face gendered restrictions and rollbacks to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and globally, cis men are not acting as full partners in family planning or maternal, newborn, and child health, the authors say.
Health frameworks to date have failed to adequately address the ways in which inequitable gender dynamics and masculinities play a role in perpetuating poor health outcomes, as well as negatively impacting the health and rights of all individuals. There is growing support to change this, the authors say, pointing to a 2018 Guttmacher-Lancet Commission report’s call for increased attention to relational approaches and masculine norms in efforts to advance SRHR. Promundo and Family Planning 2020—with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—recently convened a technical consultation with representatives from more than 30 organizations to complete a list of guiding principles and recommendations for advancing the involvement of men and boys as clients, partners, and SRHR advocates. The 10 priority areas for action are:
- Implement comprehensive sexuality education with specific gender-transformative content on masculine norms and relationships.
- Increase men’s uptake of existing male contraceptive methods.
- Expand the range of contraceptive options available to men and their partners.
- Increase men’s support for their partners’ SRHR and method use.
- Promote men’s role as supportive partners and advocates for women’s access to safe abortion services, always respecting a woman’s right to choose.
- Increase men’s access to and use of HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support.
- Improve men’s uptake of STI diagnosis and treatment.
- Engage men in maternal, newborn, and child health.
- Better address men’s specific sexual and reproductive concerns, including dysfunction and infertility, by improving the structure of health services.
- Develop men’s capacity as advocates and change agents for SRHR.
Authors Shand, Miller, and Hook say it is high time to take action in shifting masculine norms to improve sexual and reproductive health around the world.