Gender Transformative Approaches

Sexual Pleasure


This whitepaper provides an overview of national and international knowledge, research and
interventions regarding gender transformative approaches (GTA) as is considered relevant for
Rutgers’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programmes. Besides a definition of
gender transformative approach, state of the art knowledge, evaluated practices and an overview of
key interventions within the GTA field will be presented. The whitepaper is intended for SRHR
professionals who want to learn more about what a gender transformative perspective implies for
them in practice.But why is gender transformative thinking and practice important for Rutgers and what does it
actually entail? The main reason why Rutgers sees GTA as an overarching principle in its overall
strategy is because ”restrictive sexual and gender norms are preventing people from receiving the
information and services they need to make safe and informed decisions and to fulfil their sexual
and reproductive health and rights.” (Rutgers, 2017).

Restrictive sexual and gender norms are motivated by religious, social and cultural views and beliefs,
and have an impact on the sexuality of young people, women, people with a non-heterosexual
orientation, and people with different gender identities. The heterosexual norm and the sexual double
standard still very much prevail. Evidence is growing that patriarchal gender norms not only have
negative implications for women and children but also for men themselves (WHO, 2007). As a
consequence of these restrictive sexual and gender norms, many people worldwide are not
acknowledged in their sexuality, and their sexual and reproductive rights are violated. (Rutgers
Strategy 2017-2020).

Although the Netherlands has a reputation of tolerance and openness about sex, the double standard
still exists among young people, meaning that boys have more sexual privileges than girls
(Emmerink, 2018). Furthermore, although tolerance regarding homosexuality is relatively high in the
Netherlands (Kuyper, 2016) negative attitudes among young people towards homosexuality are quite
common: 57% of boys and 31% of girls between 12 and 25 disapprove of two boys having sex, and
24% of boys and 30% of girls feel the same about two girls having sex (De Graaf, 2012; Rutgers,

Restrictive sexual and gender norms and stereotypical perceptions of what it means to be a man or a
woman can promote unequal gender relations that often put men in a position of sexual dominance
and can limit women’s ability to control their reproductive and sexual health and rights. The core of a
GTA is therefore changing these restrictive norms and the often unequal power relations that
maintain these norms.

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