This technical resource guide is designed to build the capacity of development practitioners working in nutrition and food security to plan, implement, and evaluate gender-sensitive social behaviour change (SBC) programming in order to improve nutritional outcomes for pregnant and lactating women (PLW) and children under two. It provides an overview, rationale, critical actions, best practices, resources, and tools for integrating gender-sensitive SBC into project activities.
Evidence shows a strong correlation between gender inequality and food insecurity. Food security requires physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life at all times. It is particularly important during the 1,000 days from conception to a child’s second birthday, where malnutrition can result in lifelong, irreversible damage and compromises maternal, neonatal, and child health, physical and cognitive growth, educational achievement, and productivity as adults.
Addressing gender-related social norms and behaviours has the potential to improve agricultural productivity, food security, and health and nutrition outcomes for families during the first 1,000 days and beyond. The report presents critical actions for improving the gender sensitivity of SBC programming, as well as best practices, key resources, and tools to improve nutrition and food security during the first 1,000 days and beyond.
Implementing gender-sensitive SBC approaches requires flexibility, regular monitoring of results, and continuous adjustments to approaches to ensure project activities are achieving desired outcomes and reaching the most vulnerable—women and children in the first 1,000 days.
Gender-sensitive SBC approaches are defined as behaviour-centred approaches that identify, consider, and account for the needs, abilities, and opportunities of women, men, girls, and boys to enable individuals, households, groups, and communities to adopt evidence-based practices and transform the environment in which behaviour change occurs.
Gender-sensitive SBC approaches are essential to increase optimal nutrition practices, demand for services and commodities, and utilization of services, and allow for effective linkages across sectors, spanning health, agriculture, food security, and economic empowerment, among others.
Evidence-based, multisectoral gender-sensitive SBC interventions can improve nutrition outcomes during the 1,000-day window of opportunity in three key impact areas: 1) access to food; 2) maternal and child care; and 3) water, sanitation, and health services.
Conduct a gender analysis and SBC formative research; Ensure project strategies and plans are gender-sensitive; Strengthen gender-related partnerships; Ensure project objectives and SBC interventions address gender needs and gaps; Make linkages across multiple sectors.
Engage a range of important influencers; Consider the needs and preferences of men and women when implementing activities; Gender and SBC trainings need to be integrated, balanced, and impactful; Review project messages and materials to ensure gender considerations are included, where appropriate; Ensure interventions “do no harm.”
Collect and analyse sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive indicators; Standardise gender-sensitive SBC measures within and between projects; Broaden the evidence base; Document and share results, best practices, and lessons learned.
Ensure leadership is supportive of and committed to gender issues; Consider gender issues in the hiring process and workplace; Build capacity of all staff to address gender.