Why I Spent International Women’s Day Serving Males

Why I Spent International Women’s Day Serving Males


Being brave or vulnerable is neither male or female.

I’ve been reflecting on the fact that on March 8th, International Women’s Day, I was coordinating training for youth-serving professionals, including substance abuse counselors and social workers who provide services to adolescents and young adult males, 15-24 years-old to help these professionals inform young men about the importance of reproductive health and refer young men to reproductive health services. This is a big deal to me. International Women’s Day is an important day to me to mark the struggle that women face every day: That women need council, need community and need support, especially this year in the wake of the #metoo movement.

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I would whole-heartedly say that men also need council, community, and support. Part of the reason we have the #metoo movement is that culturally men aren’t encouraged to embrace these wonderful things. I just listened to a TEDtalk about bringing up strong girls (I am all for that) and how we need to teach our girls to be brave as this isn’t a typical attribute they are taught like boys are. I would also say we need to teach our boys how to be vulnerable. Or how about this…let’s move away from “genderfying” states of being. Being brave or vulnerable is neither male or female. It’s human.

My training event was a culmination of several years and hard work with many partners on the ground in Gaston, NC to improving young men’s knowledge about the need for reproductive health services and how to obtain these services and improving young men’s use of clinical reproductive health care services.

Engaging young men in teen pregnancy prevention can help prevent early fatherhood, which can have serious consequences for the young men, their partners, and their children. Young men are also more likely to exhibit pregnancy ambivalence, which is associated with a lowered likelihood of their partner using birth control. Engaging young men in sexual and reproductive health education and health care services is critical to preventing unintended pregnancy. But, only 25% of male adolescents report receiving sexual reproductive health services compared to approximately 50% of females. However, both male and female adolescents report an interest in receiving sexual reproductive health information from their providers.

Young men want to be involved in preventing pregnancies within their relationships….young men want connection…..young men want healthy relationships. We in public health have a role to play in this. If we empower young men to embrace their vulnerability and accessing sexual reproductive health services, this empowers young women. When we support the collective good we are lifted up as individual parts of the whole. The challenge, however, has been and continues to be the pragmatic application of the research to achieve our objective of increased gender equality.

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