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Socio-cultural influences on the reproductive health of migrant women: A review of literature in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam

This paper is an overview of the analysis presented in a series of four literature reviews that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) commissioned to identify sociocultural factors that affect the sexual and reproductive health of female migrants. The reviews encompassed looking at research, study reports and other available documents, mainly from the past decade, on internal migrants in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam, and international migrants from Myanmar in Thailand. The reviews were premised on the assumption that socio-cultural factors impact on the potential of female migrants to access sexual and reproductive health information and services and protection from violence. The consultants sought to identify factors enabling access to information and services, as well as examples of good intervention models that might be replicated or scaled up. Potential barriers to access of reproductive health services by female migrants were also described.

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Study on traditional beliefs and practices regarding maternal and child health in Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai and Tibet

The study was undertaken in the provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan, Qinghai and Tibet and considered the cultural beliefs and practices of selected representatives of six ethnic minority groups - Miao, Dong, Jingpo, Dai, Hui and Tibetans - in relation to key aspects of maternal and child health. It was designed to identify enabling factors that contribute to the uptake of MCH services, as well as any harmful traditional practices or other barriers that impede maternal and child health and utilization of related services. Information was gathered in relation to religious and traditional beliefs and practices in general, as well as attitudes, beliefs and practices in relation to health and nutrition of pregnant women and children. The research team was tasked to identify and highlight specific practices, beliefs or attitudes – from either demand or supply side - which could be targeted in MCH guidelines, policy and service delivery, in order to enhance access to and utilization of MCH services, thus contributing to improved health targets.

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Sex imbalances at birth: current trends, consequences and policy implications

This report offers an updated review of the various facets and the latest trends and differentials in sex selection in Asia. It includes a set of recommendations to combat gender discrimination and prenatal sex selection at the national and regional level. Education, urbanization and economic development have significantly improved opportunities for Asian women and girls over the last two decades. Yet, this has coincided with a fall in the proportion of girls among children in many countries. The decline, caused to a large extent by an increase in prenatal sex selection in the past 20 years, is leading to an alarming demographic masculinization. This intensifying gender imbalance will have an adverse impact at many levels on men, women and families over the next half century.

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Implementation of the international and regional human rights framework for the elimination of female genital mutilation

A human rights approach to FGM places the practice within a broader social justice agenda — one that emphasizes the responsibilities of governments to ensure realization of the full spectrum of women’s and girls’ rights. In order to place FGM within a human rights framework, it is critical to know more about human rights law. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the dearth of literature focusing on the gross violation of human rights through the practice of FGM. It also addresses the corresponding duties of governments under international human rights law.

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Mobilising men in practice: challenging sexual and gender-based violence in institutional settings

Men need to be involved in reflective, in-depth discussions and comprehensive campaigns focused on ending violence against women. This report documents the work of one such effort, the Mobilising Men initiative, led by the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex in Britain) with support from UNFPA. Through partnerships with civil society groups in India, Kenya and Uganda beginning in 2009, the initiative trained men to be team activists in seeking gender balances. By immersing the participants in a programme of dialogue and action that challenge the inherent nature of male privileges and power structures in society – government, academia and workplace – the men learned a lot about themselves and how they can begin to address inequities. By providing step-by-step tools, discussion topics and stories about the Mobilising Men participants, the publication acts as a guide for activists to instil change in institutions that impede women’s progress through both subtle and obvious barriers.

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Impacts of population dynamics reproductive health and gender on poverty

How do the many the different components of the UNFPA mandate contribute to poverty reduction? This publication analyses this question in detail, looking at both the micro level (impacts on individuals and households) and the larger picture. The document concludes that the strength of UNFPA's contribution to poverty reduction resides in the complementarity of different interventions and the synergies by which population dynamics, gender equality and reproductive health work together to reduce poverty.

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Adolescent boys and young men: engaging them as supporters of gender equality and health and understanding their vulnerabilities

Achieving gender equality must, and has, involved efforts to understand the vulnerabilities and risks that adolescent girls and young women face every day – but how much do we know about the realities of adolescent boys and young men? This report takes a deeper look at the daily lives of adolescent boys and young men around the world and at how they can join the movement towards improved health and gender equality. Exploring global research, the report reveals boys’ and young men’s specific risks and realities in relation to health in general, sexual and reproductive health in particular, sexuality, media violence, sexual exploitation and other vulnerabilities. It analyses the implications of these risks and realities not only for boys, but also on the lives of women and girls. Adolescence is a key period where individuals of all gender identities form attitudes, opinions and beliefs – about themselves, about their sexuality and about their place in the world. It is a period when ideas about equality can become ingrained. The study emphasizes that a holistic approach to advancing gender equality and sexual and reproductive health must include both adolescent girls and boys. It highlights the need to engage adolescent boys and young men as allies to achieve gender equality and as supporters of women’s empowerment, as well as the importance of addressing the specific health and social development needs of boys themselves.

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Religion, women's health and rights: points of contention and paths of opportunities

This report looks at the religious arguments around some of the most sensitive and contentious SRH-related issues, from the perspective of the major faith traditions of this world. These issues range from contraception to abortion to GBV to Child Marriage. Far from merely listing the 'religious objections' to be found in the 5 main religions of the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam), this Report then goes on to elaborate the alternative, faith-based lived realities, interpretations and actions which support the sexual and reproductive rights in question.

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Realizing the faith dividend: religion, gender, peace and security in Agenda 2030

The UN Secretary General is on record as ​speaking to the importance of faith-based organizations in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that ​they​ have a role to play​ in ​his​ policy of developing transformative multi-stakeholder partnerships over the coming five years.​ UNFPA is one of the oldest UN specialised agencies to engage with faith-based actors, convening them at the national, regional and global levels, since the Millennium. ​In 2010, UNFPA co-founded and chaired the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Engaging with Faith-Based actors. Since then, this UN Task Force has annually convened these faith-based partners for a series of policy dialogues, together with donor governments, academics, development and humanitarian specialists from diverse regions and religions, around diverse human rights, development and peace and security-related issues. This report focuses on the role of religious actors, and religious considerations in the SDG agenda, particularly as they pertain to gender equality, peaceful coexistence and security considerations. The perspectives, ideas and initiatives discussed in these pages bring together experiences and policy analysis shared from the different realities of donors, UN agencies and Faith-Based NGOs. The richness of these narratives both build on and inform current policy formulations which are required at a time when religion is often seen too flippantly as a 'problem' by secular institutions which also have a legacy of partnerships as yet under appreciated.

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Adolescent girls in disaster & conflict: interventions for improving access to sexual and reproductive health services

Millions of adolescent girls are in need of humanitarian assistance. A crisis heightens their vulnerability to gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection, maternal death and disability, early and forced marriage, rape, trafficking, and sexual exploitation and abuse. In emergencies, adolescent girls need tailored programming to increase their access to sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, and to protect them from gender-based violence. From safe spaces to mobile clinics to youth participation, UNFPA uses different approaches to reach displaced, uprooted and crisis-affected adolescent girls at a critical time in their young lives. This publication features new case studies on reaching adolescent girls in humanitarian situations from programmes in Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Somalia.

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Establishing a workable follow-up and review process for the Sustainable Development Goals

The Open Working Group document proposes that governments will set its own national targets. They will be guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. To make the Post-2015 agenda actionable, much more thought needs to be given to the process of target-setting, different actors’ responsibilities, implementation and accountability.

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Mind the gap? A comparison of international and national targets for the SDG agenda

The stretch required for low-income countries (LICs) to achieve SDG targets is generally greater than for middle-income and high-income countries (MICs and HICs). The gaps identified indicate where most work is needed to alter political priorities in order to realise the SDGs. Most hard work will be needed in areas that are highly politically contentious (climate policy) or expensive (secondary education, electricity and sanitation). This has implications for how governments structure a review process and how resources are mobilised for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The report also found a great deal of variation in the approach to measuring targets at the national level. A standardised approach would make comparisons easier and hold governments more readily to account.

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Progress despite adversity: women's empowerment and conflict in Colombia

The Colombian case is an example of progress in women’s empowerment in the face of formidable and continuing challenges. Progress is identified in relation to: legal gains for women’s rights and gender equality; women’s presence and representation in public and elected positions; the advancement of a gender-responsive approach to addressing the legacies of conflict; and associated mechanisms of memorialisation, reparations, restitution and transitional justice. The case of Colombia is a valuable study in how women engage with contesting legacies of exclusion and discrimination in the prevailing political settlement, and influencing the public debate and direction of policy relating to justice, peace and accountability to take into account the gendered experience of conflict.

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Baseline study: stamping out and preventing gender based violence (STOP GBV) in Zambia

This study provides a baseline to measure programme results, impact and long-lasting change at the end of the STOP GBV Programme led by World Vision (WV), Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) and Zambia Centre for Communication Programme (ZCCP) in six districts of Zambia: Chingola, Kalomo, Monze, Mpika, Mumbwa and Nyimba. Given the focus of the STOP-GBV Programme the study focused on three main areas: GBV Survivor Services; Access to Justice; and Prevention and Advocacy.

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Gender violence in Papua New Guinea

The magnitude of gender-based violence (GBV) incidence in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is considered by some to be of epidemic proportions: 41% of men in PNG admit to having raped someone, over two-thirds of women are estimated to have suffered some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, and it is reported that 7.7% of men admit to having perpetrated male rape. Only 73% of survivors of GBV in PNG seek assistance and the vast majority of these individuals (88%) seek this assistance through informal support structures, such as familial, kinship or collegiate networks or village courts and community leaders rather than through official channels. This indicates that GBV is under-reported. The social, emotional and physical costs of GBV are widely recognised, as are national-level economic costs. But the impact at individual firm level is less well understood. Being able to cost the multidimensional impact of GBV for a business, highlighting potential savings from investing in responsive and or preventative measures, is an important first step in building the business case for intervention and ultimately for contributing to a reduction of GBV incidence in PNG. This study sets out a practical approach for calculating costs within a firm and presents findings from three firms reviewed for this pilot study in PNG. The following review of methodology, prevalence findings, company responses, discussion, conclusions and recommendations provide a series of lessons for businesses and business support organisations seeking to develop a comprehensive response to the factors that enable and perpetuate GBV and its impacts.

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In quest of inclusive progress: exploring intersecting inequalities in human development

For 16 countries with appropriate data, this paper seeks to ascertain to what extent wealth status, urban/rural place of residence and ethnicity – and overlaps between them – explain inequalities in education and health; and how these inequalities have changed over time. The focus is on women’s years of education and on the proportion of children in a household who have died.

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Piecing together the MDG puzzle: domestic policy, government spending and performance

Policy-makers in most of the developing countries surveyed report that the MDGs were influential in setting priorities domestically. Analysis of the education and health sectors suggests these statements are not merely tokenistic as countries reporting high influence saw increases in budget allocations. However while many countries experienced increases in government spending in social sectors over the MDG period, the majority still spend less than the recommended international benchmarks. Significant increases in government allocations will therefore be required to match the ambition of the SDGs. Recommendations for the SDG period include ensuring better data on domestic use of targets, government spending and performance are available to better assess their influence over the next 15 years and ensure the 'leave no one behind' agenda will be fulfilled.

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National MDG implementation: lessons for the SDG era

As we approach the deadline for the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the start of the Sustainable Development Goals, at the end of 2015, this paper asks: how did governments respond at the national level to the set of global development goals in the form of the MDGs? Using five case study countries: Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Nigeria and Liberia, to reflect a mix of regions, income classifications and MDG performance, the paper draws out common trends and suggests five lessons for the post-2015 era.

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Rebuilding adolescent girls' lives: mental health and psychosocial support in conflict-affected Gaza, Liberia and Sri Lanka

This study explored the linkages between mental health, psychosocial well-being and social norms in the fragile and post-conflict settings of Gaza, Liberia and Sri Lanka with a particular focus on adolescent girls (10-19 years). In particular, the study explored the extent to which services and community and household responses to mental health and psychosocial problems in these settings are sufficiently informed by an understanding of the context, as well as gender inequalities and dynamics, and social norms.

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How communications can change social norms around adolescent girls

Poised at the intersection between childhood and adulthood, adolescent girls face unique challenges to the full development and exercise of their capabilities. Child marriage and under-investment in girls’ education are two such challenges that continue to limit girls’ trajectories, fuelled in part by discriminatory social norms that uphold these practices within local settings that are often circumscribed by poverty and lack of opportunity. A multi-year, multi-country study has been exploring the complex ways in which adolescent girls’ capabilities are shaped and/or constrained by gender-discriminatory social norms, attitudes and practices, and under what conditions positive changes may be brought about, particularly around norms and practices related to child marriage and education. Evidence from this report showed that communications programmes could be an effective way of challenging gender-discriminatory attitudes and practices, reaching a variety of stakeholders with both broad pro-gender equality messages and messages on specific discriminatory norms. While no one approach was found to be more effective than others, programmes with more than one communications component and those integrated with activities other than communications were found to achieve a higher proportion of positive outcomes.

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Women and power: overcoming barriers to leadership and influence

Around the world, women now have more decision-making power and influence over social, political and economic life, than ever before. However, progress is uneven both across and within countries. While increasing the numbers of women in political positions is important, it does not automatically follow that they have real authority or decision-making autonomy. This policy paper synthesises findings from two years of research on women’s voice and leadership in decision-making in developing countries – including evidence reviews and five empirical case studies on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Gaza, Kenya and Malawi. It sets out to understand the factors that help and hinder women’s access to and substantive influence in decision-making processes in politics and society, and whether women’s leadership advances gender equality and the well-being of women more broadly.

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Extending social insurance to informal workers: a gender analysis

Informal workers face high levels of risks yet the majority are not covered by social insurance. Meanwhile, women informal workers face specific and heightened risks, yet more women than men are excluded from insurance schemes. Increasingly a number of countries are extending social insurance to informal workers, but, with only some exceptions, most policies remain gender-blind or gender-neutral. Gender-responsive reforms can ensure increased coverage of women, including of female informal workers, to address the risks they face. These include: (i) legislation in the labour market; (ii) recognition of the care economy; (iii) innovative policy design in payment options and simplified administrative processes; and (iv) investment in gender-sensitive delivery capacity.

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Enhancing women's influence in local governance with community scorecards: CARE Rwanda's experience

The community scorecard (CsC) has become internationally recognised as an effective social accountability tool for building and strengthening citizen collective action for improved service delivery. CARE has more than a decade of experience of applying scorecards, starting with CARE Malawi in 2002 and then through applying the approach in different sectors and to different issues in various country programmes. This report - and supporting briefing paper - explore the use of the CsC model in two projects within CARE Rwanda’s vulnerable women’s programme. It examines how the model was implemented in each of the projects; the key outcomes of the initiatives; and how these have contributed to improving the quality of gender-based violence service delivery and enhancing women’s role in local governance processes. The findings indicate that the CsC is not a one-size-fits-all solution with regard to improving developmental outcomes. It is a flexible guide or tool that can and should be adapted to the distinct contextual and operational environment in which it is implemented and based on the objectives and changes it intends to produce.

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Child poverty, inequality and demography: Why sub-Saharan Africa matters for the Sustainable Development Goals

In this publication we examine the implications of demographic trends in Africa for the changing age profile of world poverty – and for the region's development prospects. Investing in opportunities for Africa’s children could yield major returns for economic growth and human development. Education is critical. Delivering decent quality learning for all is a proven catalyst for development. We also highlight the expansion of reproductive health care, promotion of gender equity, measures to reduce early marriage, and cash transfers targeting child poverty as critical ingredients for change. African governments and the wider international community could be doing far more in these areas. With the right mix of policies in place, Africa could accelerate the pace of demographic transition – and reap a dividend from a rising generation of youth. There are valuable lessons to be drawn from other regions and some countries in Africa itself. But governments need to wake up to the demographic opportunity as a matter of urgency.

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Projecting progress: the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean

This paper presents Latin America and the Caribbean’s (LAC) likely progress across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, if trends continue on their current trajectories. There are significant disparities across the globe in progress both between and within countries; LAC is no exception. There are a number of disparities across sub-regions and there are disparities within countries – ethnicity, for example, is a crucial factor in determining whether someone is likely to benefit from development gains. During the Millennium Development Goals era considerable gains were made in a number of countries in LAC. However, already strong outcomes in some areas compared with other developing regions will make continued progress towards the new goals difficult.

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