Thank you for joining us for this International Development Week and diving into Gender Transformative Programming in Health: Experiences in Engaging Men and Faith Leaders.
Question: On training for men, have you identified differences in content and method of training compared to previously developed gender training materials and methods that are more targeted at women? What are your key learnings which should be considered for designing gender training for women, men, and mixed groups?
Response: Considering low literacy among many communities where we work, it is important to consider the following while engaging men, women, girls, and boys:
Question: How do you address the concern that “gender equality” is being imposed as a Western concept to the community and as a donor’s requirements? Often there is resistance from the local leaders (male) as projects with gender focus can be seen as challenges to the existing power dynamic and cultural norms.
Response: The training tools need to be developed based on the findings of country-specific gender assessment. Even if one has broader training materials, these need to be heavily contextualized while using local examples and experiences. Enter into dialogue with communities to hear their voices and understand if they are content with the workload and decision-making balance and powers. Using tools such as 24 Hour Clock is very revealing.
Response: Secular development language around gender equality is sometimes dismissed as ‘foreign,’ or ‘top-down’ by those for whom religious beliefs are central to their worldview, presenting a barrier to the adoption of gender-transformative attitudes and behaviours. The use of alternative language, connecting to personal experiences, and offering space for spiritual and scriptural reflection are really important. Once faith leaders share their personal change in theological views with their followers, broader community changes in attitudes and perceptions about female-male relationships and power dynamics can take place.
Question: The reactions to these programs seem to have brought in opportunities to learn. Did you feel you needed to and/or were expected to revise some of the underlying assumptions to the approaches that were co-developed?
Response: The general assumption that it will be difficult to engage religious leaders may not hold in many situations. It all depends on how religious leaders are approached. If it is not based on dialogue and understanding religious leaders’ context one may experience pushback. Engaging a well-respected religious leader from the target community/area/country is important, followed by stating the problems and their consequences on women girls, boys and men are critical, and then initiating the process of dialogue and co-creation of the content/messages, validation of the message/curriculum, and then cascading in the community.
Response: Ensuring that training and group discussion content and behavioral change strategies were locally informed and appropriate for the local context was a critical first step in the roll-out of MenCare. Different models were used to understand the range of local factors, (including local barriers and motivators) influencing male engagement in RMNCH/N. This information was used to prioritize interventions, develop customized modules, and target social and behaviour change communication materials effectively.
World Vision Canada
Plan Canada International Canada: