Promoting Gender Equality
Empowerment Throughout Life
In many cultures, the discrimination against girls that begins in infancy can affect the course of their entire lives. Similarly, male attitudes towards gender and sexual relations are developed in boyhood, when they are often set for life. In addition, the needs and rights of individuals are different at different stages of life. For these reasons, UNFPA takes a life cycle approach to its programming, focusing on key messages that can empower both women and men at different stages of their lives.
Critical Messages for Different Stages of Life
- Inform and empower girls to delay pregnancy until they are physically and emotionally mature.
- Inspire and motivate boys and men to take responsibility for their sexual behaviour, to support gender equality and to value daughters equally as sons.
- Encourage governments to take responsibility for the human catastrophe of orphans and other children who live in the streets.
- Encourage governments to promote universal and non-gender discriminatory education for girls and boys
- Reorient health education and services to meet the needs of adolescents both in and out of school. Integrated reproductive health education and services for young people should include family planning information, and counselling on gender relations, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse and reproductive health.
- Be sensitive to the needs of married adolescents: Each year, millions of preteens and adolescents around the world are married each year, with little say in the matter and often to older men, which puts them at higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease than a woman married to a younger, less sexually experienced man.
- Ensure that health care programmes and providers’ attitudes allow for adolescents’ access to the services and information they need.
- Support efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation/cutting and other harmful practices, sexual abuse, and trafficking of adolescents for forced labour, forced marriage or commercial sex.
- Socialize and motivate boys and young men to show respect and responsibility in sexual behavior.
- Improve communication between men and women on issues of sexuality and reproductive health, and the understanding of their joint responsibilities, so that they are equal partners in public and private life.
- Enable women to exercise their right to control their own fertility and their right to make decisions concerning reproduction, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.
- Improve the quality and availability of reproductive health services and barriers to access.
- Make emergency obstetric care available to all women who experience complications in their pregnancies.
- Encourage men's responsibility for sexual and reproductive behaviour and increase male participation in family planning.
- Reorient and strengthen health care services to better meet the needs of older women (and men).
- Support outreach by women's NGOs to help older women in the community to better understand the importance of girls’ education and reproductive and sexual health and rights so that they may become effective transmitters of this knowledge.
- Develop strategies to better meet needs of the elderly for food, water, shelter, social and legal services and health care.