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Men and boys in sanitation and hygiene: A desk-based review

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This desk review explores existing literature and examples of men’s and boys’ behaviours and gender roles in sanitation and hygiene (S&H) and the extent to which the engagement of men and boys in S&H processes is leading to sustainable and transformative change in households and communities. We developed an analytical framework for the review clustered around 3 areas: with men as objects to change, agents of change and partners for change.

Within these areas we developed six themes for analysis: (1) men’s and boys’ S&H practices and behaviours, (2) S&H campaigns aimed at men and boys, (3) men’s engagement in S&H processes, (4) strategies focused on roles and responsibilities in S&H, (5) strategies for men as partners for change, and (6) transformation change for gender equality.

The desk review involved an examination of existing literature to better understand the landscape and identify gaps pointing to a need for further research. To add depth to the literature review, the methodology included interviews with respected water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and gender practitioners in Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

Recommendations from the review for better engagement of men and boys in S&H include:

  • Engage men (especially fathers and fathers-to-be) and boys to share responsibilities in the household and as positive community role models;
  • Work with community leaders to influence the attitudes of boys and men;
  • Support campaigns that create a conversation about traditional gender roles and challenge harmful gender stereotypes;
  • Promote reflective practice and change for development professionals in relation to gender and sexuality among development practitioners;
  • Monitor changes in social norms on masculinities through sanitation and hygiene programmes;
  • Monitor factors that motivate men to adopt more hygienic practices (open defecation free (ODF) and handwashing) and a more pro-active role in family hygiene education;
  • Encourage development practitioners to adopt an intersectional approach (including stages of life) to target different groups of men and boys more effectively.
Date: 15 October 2018