Engaging Men and Boys
MSH recognizes that appropriate gender strategies engage men and boys, in addition to women and girls. In many cases, it is important to sensitize men and boys to support efforts targeting women and girls in order to ensure success. One approach we have taken in this respect has been to include men in women’s health care, such as by inviting them to prenatal health visits. Additionally, men and boys may have their own special needs which require particular emphasis. For example, MSH has designed strategies to reach male populations particularly at risk for HIV, including men who have sex with men and those in male-dominated professions, such as loggers, miners, and truckers and other migrant works.
In Guyana through the USAID-funded, 3-year, $8.9M HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Program, Phase II, MSH collaborated with the government, civil society, and private sector to strengthen health systems, develop preventative interventions, and improve the quality of HIV/AIDS services. As part of the prevention efforts, MSH sought to increase consistent and correct condom use among miners, loggers, and other target groups of men by challenging male stereotypes. Men who participated in the project learned that the concept of masculinity is socially constructed and, therefore, can be changed. By altering traditional attitudes and perceptions, the project was able to increase condom use substantially.