Written by: Erin Portillo, Breakthrough ACTION Program Officer II
In family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) programs around the world, there is growing attention to the association between gender inequalities and health outcomes for women and girls. Evidence shows that gender-related factors also create significant barriers for men in accessing and practicing healthy FP/RH behaviors.
Engaging men and boys as FP users, supportive partners, and/or agents of change has been successful in decreasing unintended pregnancies, improving maternal health, reducing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS, and meeting the needs of youth.
However, many relevant FP/RH programs do not incorporate male engagement into their work because relevant decision-makers may not understand male engagement or its benefits, may be concerned about making changes to long-standing investments in female-centered FP programs, or may act on personal biases that deem FP as solely a woman’s issue.
In order to support actors working in FP/RH, who are interested in advancing male engagement among donors, local governments, project implementers, and other important audiences, Breakthrough ACTION has created Advancing Male Engagement in Family Planning and Reproductive Health: An Advocacy Tool.
The tool provides an advocacy implementation plan template that helps users identify priority FP/RH decision-makers, assess their current level of familiarity with or support for male engagement, and tailor a unique advocacy goal and approach based on that decision maker’s specific priorities and spheres of influence.
Further, the tool incorporates existing research, frameworks, and other resources to help users build their case for male engagement. Breakthrough ACTION also invites those using the tool to share their experiences via Springboard or to have their experience with the tool documented and shared by the project via a blog post or case study.