This post was written by Pamela Onyo, Research Officer in Kenya.
Gender transformative approaches are programs and interventions that create opportunities for individuals to actively challenge gender norms, promote positions of social and political influence for women in communities, and address power inequities between persons of different genders. It creates an enabling environment for gender transformation by going beyond just including women as participants in a project. The approaches are part of a continuum of gender integration into all aspects of program and policy conceptualisation, development, implementation and evaluation.
In the context of health and social and behaviour change communication (SBCC), the approaches address multi-level power hierarchies in communities that impede an individual’s ability to make decisions about his or her health. For women, this can include (but is not limited to) health decisions such as access to health services and birth spacing. These approaches strive to shift gendered community perspectives and social relationships towards perspectives of equality that allow both women and men to achieve their full potential within a society. Accordingly, the approaches go beyond improving health access for women alone, but include benefits for men that also affect women’s health and empowerment.