The public health and international development communities have known for nearly two decades that gender – the way in which societies define acceptable roles, responsibilities, and behaviors of women and men – strongly influences how HIV spreads and how people respond to the epidemic. Because of the interrelated factors that contribute to HIV infection, there is growing recognition that using multiple approaches in HIV/AIDS programming is more effective than single strategies.
That said, we know little about how implementers use gender-based programs to improve HIV services, and even less about how programs integrate multiple gender strategies to mitigate women’s and men’s vulnerability to infection.
To begin filling these gaps, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) AIDSTAR-One project created this compendium of selected HIV programs in sub-Saharan Africa that integrate multiple gender strategies. Technical oversight in developing the compendium was provided by the USAID AIDSTAR-One partner organization, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Featured programs address at least two of the following gender strategies: 1) reducing violence and sexual coercion; 2) addressing male norms and behaviors; 3) increasing women’s legal protection; and 4) increasing women’s access to income and productive resources. The compendium describes each of the 31 selected programs, and synthesizes trends and findings to provide initial insights on using multiple gender strategies in HIV programming, including how strategies are employed together, where gaps exist, and what lessons and experiences are common across programs. Though not meant to be exhaustive, the compendium represents the depth and breadth of current HIV programming that includes multiple gender strategies.
Overall, we found that many innovative programs exist in sub-Saharan Africa and that implementers are successfully integrating multiple gender approaches into HIV programs. Program implementers report numerous benefits of combining gender strategies, including ensuring project salience and relevance, extending project reach, and reflecting the multiple, interrelated needs of beneficiaries.
The overall findings summarize how people are integrating gender strategies, how the four specific gender strategies are being used and are working, and how people are learning from and sharing their experiences toward strengthening programs and expanding successes.