7. Use a Gender-synchronized Approach
Population: Boys and girls (ages 12-18)
Issue: Gender-based violence
Gender-synchronized approaches recognize how both men and women shape and perpetuate gender norms in society and that working in an intentional and synchronized manner with both may be more effective than working with one or the other (51). Gender-synchronized approaches can occur simultaneously or sequentially within the same program or in coordination with other organizations.
The Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) program in India aims to promote gender equality among adolescents in school settings by encouraging equal relationships between girls and boys, examining the social norms that define men’s and women’s roles, and questioning the use of violence. The school-based program uses extracurricular activities, role playing and games to explore these issues with both girls and boys (52).
One of the areas of greatest change is around appropriate roles for women and men and girls and boys. Other key attitudinal and behavioral changes are increased support for a higher age at marriage for girls, greater male involvement in household work, increased opposition to gender discrimination, and improved responses to violence.
A recent component to the project has included developing and testing an intervention to engage fathers of girls in two communities of Mumbai on issues related to their empowerment.
Lessons Learned from Gender-Synchronized Programs (Adapted from Synchronizing Gender Strategies: A Cooperative Model for Improving Reproductive Health and Transforming Gender Relations, Interagency Gender Working Group, 2010)
Gender-Synchronized Programs should:
- Employ multiple strategies to change community norms
- Engage men – as partners, clients, and agents of change – as allies in the effort to promote the benefits of gender-equitable relationships for the whole community and promote positive male role models
- Recognize that men and women, boys and girls, reinforce notions of masculinity and femininity, including those that might be helpful
Gender-Synchronized Programs should not:
- Focus on interventions at only one level, without paying more attention to how, for example, institutions like schools or the police may reinforce harmful gender norms
- Engage men without first considering the consequences for women
- Vilify all men and boys as inherently perpetuating negative gender norms and behaviours nor assume that all women and girls are opposed to harmful gender norms