On September 13, 2022, the Interagency Gender Working Group’s Male Engagement Task Force (METF) hosted the webinar “Positive Youth Development in Health Programming: How Does Engaging Boys and Young Men Fit In? A Technical Marketplace.” More than 100 participants from around the world—including Eswatini, Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria—participated in discussions on how gender transformative positive youth development (PYD) contributes to positive health behaviors related to family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH); HIV/AIDS; gender-based violence; maternal, newborn, and child health; and infectious disease prevention and treatment.
PYD is gaining traction as both a philosophy and a programmatic approach that can support healthy, productive, and engaged youth as they grow into adulthood. To empower youth to reach their full potential, PYD approaches support building skills, assets, and competencies; fostering healthy relationships; strengthening the environment; and transforming systems. By integrating gender transformative approaches, PYD can maximize its effects on youth empowerment, FP/RH outcomes, and gender equality, particularly when applied in early cognitive and relationship development stages for adolescent boys and young men (ABYM).
The webinar opened with two keynote addresses:
- Michael Reichert, applied and research child psychologist and author of How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Mengave an opening keynote address, “The Promise of Human Development in Boys’ Lives”. His presentation emphasized that boys are naturally wired to connect with others, and that relationships are the medium through which successful teaching and learning is performed with boys. The prominent models for boyhood, however, do not nurture these connections.
- Amy Uccello, senior youth and family planning technical adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), provided an overview of USAID’s recently launched Youth in Development Policy, including its PYD framework. The framework recognizes youth’s inherent rights and results in youth who have assets, the agency to leverage those assets, and the ability to contribute to positive change for themselves and their communities, supported by an enabling environment. In each of these domains, meaningfully engaging adolescent boys and young men is essential.
Two panels with presenters from across the globe shared recent research or programming around PYD for adolescent boys and young men. Presentations explored how ABYM can benefit from the PYD approach through: access, including access to high-quality information, safe services, and livelihood opportunities to build the skills they need to lead healthy, productive, and engaged lives; participation, including full participation as key partners in decision-making to contribute to individual, household, community, and national well-being; and systems, including collective voice in local and national systems to achieve more coordinated and effective services, practices, and policies that embody the principles of positive youth development.
Panel 1: Engaging Young Men for Positive Youth Development in Health Programming
- “Leveraging Partnerships With Men and Boys for Optimum Health Outcomes for All,” Ajita Vidyarthi and Mohammed Ibrahim, Plan International Canada.
- “Modalities for Change: How Youth Are Engaging Boys and Men in Youth-Led Social Accountability Work in Ghana,” Douri Bennin Hajei, Youth Advocacy on Rights and Opportunities (YARO).
- “An Innovative Approach to HIV Prevention Through Engaging Boys and Young Men in Eswatini,” Mary Mhazo and Gift Dlamini, Kwakha Indvodza: Litfuba Ngelakho (The Chance is Yours).
- “Promoting Adolescent Boys’ Engagement with Sexual and Reproductive Health, Agency, and Gender Synchronicity Through Gaming,” Kavita Ayyagari, Howard Delafield International LLP.
Panel 2: Engaging Boys for Positive Youth Development in Health Programming
- “Boys’ Engagement in Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Rural Parts of Ethiopia,” Masresha Soressa, Pathfinder International.
- “Sibling Support for Adolescent Girls in Emergencies (SSAGE): Findings From a Brother-Sister Centered, Family-Based Model to Address Violence Against Girls in Humanitarian Settings,” Monica Giuffrida, Women’s Refugee Commission.
- “Engaging Adolescent Boys to Promote Reproductive Health and Prevent Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria: The SKILLZ Guyz Approach,” Usen Asanga, Youth Development and Empowerment Initiative.
Participants discussed key takeaways from the presentations, shared relevant examples from their own work, and identified critical next steps for research and programming. Key takeaways included:
- The importance of a family-centered approach/multiple influencer involvement/multilevel programming (for example, bringing parents and ABYM together to meet ABYM needs and involving peers, parents, and institutions).
- The importance of early intervention with ABYM (ages 10-14) to shift gender attitudes and norms.
- The importance of local adaptation/local-level planning to enhance program effectiveness.
- The need for accountability to engage youth in program design as early as possible.
- Youth-led programming is a priority with unique challenges and opportunities. For example, it may require one to two years to build youth agency and capacity and to advance an enabling environment.
- of implemented interventions (for example, more restrictions on girls’ autonomy to prevent potential violence).
- The need to apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to measure gender transformative outcomes, including relations between girls and boys and men and women.
EXPLORE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
- DO’s & DON’Ts for Engaging Men & Boys.
- Does Your Program Reflect Gender Transformative or Positive Youth Development Practices? A Checklist
- Youth in Development Policy | USAID.
- Positive Youth Development (PYD) Framework | YouthPower2
- Game of Choice, Not Chance.
- Sibling Support to Adolescent Girls in Emergencies (SSAGE) Implementation Toolkit | Mercy Corps.
- Champions of Change for Gender Equality and Girls’ Rights | Plan International.
- Listening to Girls as They Grow Up–Our Longitudinal Study | Plan International.
Want to Know More about IGWG’s Male Engagement Task Force?
The Male Engagement Task Force (METF) is an information, advocacy, and knowledge exchange network that examines what it means to engage men and boys in health promotion and gender equality. The METF aims to explore why we should engage men and boys, what are the benefits, how to do it, what works and doesn’t work, and what modalities of health services can better reach and include men and boys while addressing gender dynamics that act as barriers to health. Health areas of focus include family planning; sexual and reproductive health; maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health; nutrition; HIV/AIDS; and prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. The METF considers relevant social and behavior change, service delivery, research, and policy efforts to improve outcomes across these health areas. For more information, click here.