Working with Men

Action research Addressing Masculinities as a Strategy to Reduce Sexual Risk Behaviour Among Young Men in India was conducted in 14 intervention villages in Pali Block of Gorakhpur District, Uttar Pradesh and similar number of non-intervention villages in Bhat Hat Block for the period of 2005-í08. The project was implemented in partnership with DAUD Memorial Christian Gramin Vikas Samiti, Gorakhpur .  The project was supported by CORO for Literacy, Mumbai; Instituto Promundo, Rio de Janerio; and Population Council, New Delhi. Financial support was provided by Population Council and Sida.

The HIV epidemic has led to the recognition that existing reproductive health programmes have a limited impact in achieving overall reproductive health and development goals.

A participatory, group intervention to promote gender equity was piloted with young men from rural areas in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh and in urban areas of Mumbai. The gender-focused intervention attempted to promote positive norms such as responsibility, caring, and respect for one's partner and women in general. Compared to baseline, intervention participants showed equitable gender norm perceptions and reported less sexual harassment, higher condom usages and positive attitude to HIV infected, there were trends toward less risky behaviours.

Study findings indicated that addressing inequitable gender norms, particularly those that define masculinity, is an important element of an HIV prevention strategy for young men. The findings also suggested that group education interventions could successfully influence young menís attitudes toward gender roles and led to healthier relationships. In addition, the findings provided empirical evidence that a behaviour change intervention focused on combating inequitable gender norms was associated with improvements in HIV/STI risk outcomes.

The group education modules were culturally appropriate to implement in the rural setting as was evident from the study outcomes. Significant improvements in gender norms were documented in the intervention site after the intervention while similar improvements did not occur in the non-intervention site. The Gender Equitable Male Scale presented a potentially sensitive evaluation instrument for measuring the attitude changes that suggested a movement or change in the direction of gender equality on the part of young men.