Applying Gender Transformative Approach: “I can now use different methods and approaches to deliver sensitive SRHR topics”

“After taking part in the Gender Transformative Approach (GTA) Master Training series my way of thinking and working changed. Now, I automatically use a set of tools in my mind. I explore the harmful norms behind sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) situations. I view cases through human rights and intersectionality lenses, and I analyse all power dynamics that are involved. I feel that I gained a strong and clear position in regards to SRHR issues.”

This quote comes from one of the 18 master trainers, from 8 different countries, who took part in a three-part training on Rutgers’ Gender Transformative Approach in SRHR. “Participants took part in interactive sessions on the rights based approach, norms and values, gender and diversity, women and girls’ empowerment and engaging men”, explains Jeanette Kloosterman, Senior Technical Advisor at Rutgers. The goal of GTA is to examine, question and change rigid gender norms and power imbalances at all levels of the ecological model. By doing so, we can achieve better SRHR and gender equality outcomes.

"Our GTA motto is ‘Change starts with the self’. You can’t provoke transformation without living by example.”

Jeanette Kloosterman
Senior Technical Advisor

Personal experiences

“These sessions are experiential learning sessions, which means that the exercises use the participants’ own personal experiences with, for instance, discrimination, rights violations or power dynamics”, says Jeanette. “They reflect on these experiences with the newly acquired insights and then apply the lessons learned to improve their own teachings. ‘Change starts with the self’ is our motto in GTA, implying that you can’t provoke transformation in discriminative, exclusive gender relations when you don’t live by example yourself.”

Giving three consecutive in-depth trainings, about a complex topic as GTA, to the same group of people has been very successful, and gave rise to a powerful group of capable and committed GTA trainers. Now, they are ready to support and work with SRHR partner organisations within different alliances, and to take forward the GTA agenda in SRHR.

"As a kid, adults never asked my opinions or ideas. Now I feel strongly that children should always be part of the decision-making process, as the decisions are about them. "

A Ghanaian Participant of the GTA Master Training

My village that I love

“This can be nicely illustrated with an example of a GTA session adapted to the local context in Indonesia. In certain rural areas there, community members don’t consider child marriage, teenage pregnancy or FGM as problematic”, says Jeanette. “People aren’t aware of the magnitude of cases that occur around them. The objective of the exercise, ‘My village that I love’ is then to map these issues, make them visible and raise the awareness of the community members.”

“This exercise is done with village facilitators who draw a village map with the houses, schools, markets, houses of worship, health centers and hospitals, rice fields, roads, etc. The participants use red stickers to identify houses where child marriage is practiced, green stickers to identify houses where family members experience teenage pregnancies and blue stickers to identify houses where family members pass through FGM.”

“When finished, the number of cases of each practice are counted and victims identified. A reflection follows on the problematic aspects of these customs. Why are they practiced? Which underlying norms maintain them? Are they related to gender equality and which rights are violated? Who are the perpetrators? After seeing the magnitude, prevalence and problematic nature of these customs, they realise something needs to change.”

Rutgers’ Gender Transformative Toolkit

The 18 newly equipped trainers represent three SRHR Alliances: Get Up Speak Out (GUSO), Yes I Do and Prevention+. During the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Kigali, Rutgers launched the first module of its Gender Transformative Toolkit. This GTA manual includes exercises to implement GTA, and can be used in both existing and new SRHR and GBV prevention programmes. The toolkit is available here.

Uganda: GTA Training by Police Officers

Three of the newly trained GTA trainers, work for the police in Uganda. After the first training, they already successfully implemented the approach in their workplace. “We held a GBV training in the Great Lakes Region, where we taught 12 national trainers, police men and women who were going to integrate this training in their own institutions. We took the rights based approach as a starting point, because for issues relating to GBV, participants should know about a person’s right to fair treatment, non-discrimination, etc. The training included exercises such as the  Gender Box, Sexual and Gender Diversity and Gender stereotypes. After understanding rights, duty bearers and rights holders, it was much easier for the participants to understand gender.”

“Participants really appreciated these topics. They even gave us flowers to thank us. Our GTA training helped integrating key topics. Not just here in Uganda, but also in eleven other countries where the same curriculum will be used. Some topics, such as sexuality, were difficult. It needed a lot of explanation. However, participants appreciated that different people have different orientations.”

Watch an inspiring clip of Ugandan police officers challenging gender norms here


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