Family planning (FP) and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) play pivotal roles in fostering gender equality by empowering people to make their own decisions about their reproductive health. To be fully effective and successful, public health practitioners and stakeholders must address and integrate gender considerations into FP and AYSRH programs.
From its inception in 2016, The Challenge Initiative (TCI) has applied a gender lens to better understand how gender positively and negatively impacts FP and AYSRH programming at the community and health system levels. TCI also uses this lens to identify ways to expand access to quality services that meet FP clients’ needs, looking at both demand- and supply-side factors (UN Women, 2019).
Building upon its own distinct evidence-based practices and lessons learned, TCI has compiled and packaged its gender-intentional interventions and made them more widely available via a new Gender Essentials Mini-Course on TCI University (TCI-U). TCI considers interventions that improve access to family planning or AYSRH services or address social norms related to gender as “gender intentional.”
Guided by TCI’s demand-driven approach, the mini-course is primarily designed for local governments and its partners aiming to rapidly and sustainably scale up FP and AYSRH interventions among the urban poor. However, global health program implementers will also find the tools and resources highly relevant and valuable for integrating and mainstreaming gender into other health sectors and settings.
The Gender Essentials Mini-Course has five practical sections to foster gender-intentional FP and AYSRH programming.
- The Overview explains why gender is important and introduces TCI’s gender strategy and gender-responsive approaches.
- Gender Intentional Programming introduces practical and specific guidance on how to integrate gender into TCI’s stages of engagement.
- Gender Intentional Interventions showcases various gender-focused TCI interventions organized by service delivery, demand generation and advocacy.
- Data and Measurement emphasizes the importance of using data for decision-making and covers various considerations for selecting and monitoring gender indicators.
- An Additional Tools and Resources section highlights three specific tools and resources for gender-intentional programming, namely the Gender Analysis Matrix, RAISE assessment tool and Community of Practice, along with other useful resources.
TCI also developed an accompanying Technical Brief (English) that presents key issues and other details to help TCI audiences understand and apply critical guidance from the Gender Essentials Mini-Course.
TCI plans to translate both the Gender Essentials Mini-Course and Technical Brief into French in the coming months to ensure even broader reach of this guidance, leading to even more TCI-supported local governments integrating and mainstreaming gender into the scale-up of FP and AYSRH interventions.