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RHO archives : Topics : Men and Reproductive Health

Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG) Men and Reproductive Health Task Force

The Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG), established in 1997, is a network of NGOs, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Cooperating Agencies (CAs), and the Center for Population, Health and Nutrition (PHN) of the USAID. The IGWG promotes gender equity within PHN programs, in order to improve Reproductive Health/HIV/AIDS outcomes and foster sustainable development. (For more information about the IGWG, please see their website at: www.igwg.org/.)

As part of a restructuring within the IGWG, the Men and RH Sub-Committee has been changed to the Men and RH Task Force, which is charged with organizing a global conference in September 2003, "Reaching Men to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Health of All." Additional information on this conference will be posted here during a future update.

"Special efforts should be made to emphasize men's shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood, sexual and reproductive behavior, including family planning, prenatal, maternal and child health; prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; (and) prevention of unwanted and high-risk pregnancies"—Programme of Action, International Conference on Population and Development ,1994.

Overview

In 1996, in response to global action plans adopted at the Cairo and Beijing conferences emphasizing that men's shared responsibility was essential to improving women's health, USAID's Office of Population commissioned a survey to provide information about the extent and nature of men's involvement in its family planning and reproductive health programs. The report, "Involving Men in Reproductive Health: A Review of USAID-funded Activities," indicated that USAID cooperating agencies (CAs) lacked clear guidance on the priority that they should place on this issue, and needed models on how to integrate men into existing programs in a way that enhanced services to women. Recommendations included that USAID should provide direction on cost effective and gender-sensitive approaches to reaching men, ensure universal availability of condoms, and give higher priority to information and services for young men.

In 1997, the Office of Population convened the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG), with broad participation from CAs, donors, and other individuals and agencies working in the field of reproductive health. Four subcommittees were formed: Gender and Policy, Research and Indicators, Program Implementation, and Men and Reproductive Health. The Men and Reproductive Health Subcommittee meetings are held quarterly, and are attended by about 35 individuals representing 20 organizations.

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Core values

The core values of the Men and Reproductive Health Committee are:

  • To promote women's empowerment and gender equity, particularly concerning reproductive health;
  • To increase men's support for women's sexual and reproductive health and children's well-being; and
  • To promote the reproductive and sexual health of men and women.

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Key activities, themes, and products

  • To help institutionalize men's positive participation in reproductive health;
  • To provide a forum for ideas, networking, and information exchange;
  • To improve knowledge of best practices on men and reproductive health;
  • To advise USAID and agencies interested in men and reproductive health; and
  • To monitor projects funded by our committee.

Priority Themes

The Subcommittee has agreed to focus on three priority themes for the next two to three years:

Products

The Subcommittee has given small grants to produce these products:

  1. Implementation Guide on Reaching Men to Improve Reproductive and Sexual Health. Completed in 2004, this guide captures the programmatic issues discussed at the Reaching Men to Improve Reproductive Health for All international conference held in Dulles, Virrginia, September 15-18, 2003. The guide is available online at www.jhuccp.org/igwg/guide/index.html or can be ordered on CD-ROM at www.hcpartnership.org/Publications/.
  2. CD-ROM (Entitled Helping Involve Men, HIM). A resource for developing countries, with 11,000 pages of full-text documents on men's roles, programs and research. A second distribution of 1,000 copies was completed in 2001. (Johns Hopkins University Communications Program, JHU/CCP).
  3. Website. The Subcommittee supported the Men and Reproductive Health section of this Reproductive Health Outlook website.
  4. The Arabic edition of Network 18(3), Men and Reproductive Health, published Spring 1998. Available at: www.fhi.org.) A 44-page resource for Arabic health providers and policy makers. 10,000 copies circulated in Arabic-speaking regions in 1999. (Family Health International).
  5. Men and Reproductive Health Orientation Guide. A training workshop on the rationale for men's involvement in family planning, STI/HIV prevention, safe motherhood, and fatherhood, and on the socialization of adolescents and gender-based violence (FHI and Margaret Sanger, International). All the materials for this training workshop, Involving Men in Reproductive Health: A Guide, are now available on CD-ROM in English or Spanish; click here for the PRB order form, or contact [email protected].
  6. Provider Training Curriculum. Partial funding for a comprehensive curriculum that EngenderHealth is developing to train service providers to involve men and address men's own reproductive health needs. The curriculum will comprise three sections. The first is on organizational and attitudinal issues related to MRH services and is currently available, but not yet online. Sections two and three are being developed. (Engender Health, for more information contact [email protected]).
  7. Indicators for Programming—Men and Reproductive Health. Available at: www.measurecommunication.org. Illustrative performance indicators for monitoring and evaluating male involvement programs. Contact [email protected].
  8. Three Case Studies: Involving Men to Address Gender Inequities. Available at: www.measurecommunication.org. This publication presents case studies that highlight three programs and their approaches to working with men to improve reproductive health for all.

Currently, working teams are developing case studies on dissemination and evaluation of the above products and on outreach and advocacy, particularly in the areas of adolescent boys, dual protection, and gender-based violence. Meetings, which take place in the Washington, DC , area, are open and new members are encouraged to participate.

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Meeting minutes

For more information, please review the minutes of past Subcommittee meetings:

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For further information

For additional information, please contact the IGWG chair, Victoria Jennings ([email protected]), or the IGWG coordinator, Diana Prieto ([email protected]).

Page created December 2001; updated October 4, 2004.

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