Why Gendered Power Structures Are Central to ASRH Social Norms Programming?
To translate the concepts of gender and power structures into better funding, research, interventions, and measurement, it is important that these concepts and language become routine in ASRH-related social norms work. For example, based on abstracts alone, we note that although at least six of the eight articles in this volume are addressing gender norms, only one explicitly refers to them as such. Since social norms on ASRH are almost
always gender norms, it is better to use that term in referring to them. It is, in fact, impossible to think of ASRH-related social norms that are not fundamentally about gender and power, given that control of women’s and girls’ bodies, sexuality and reproduction is at the heart of gender inequality , and ASRH is by definition about sexuality and reproduction at the critical stage of physical maturation and life transitions where their significance
This underlying motivation for defining sexual and reproductive control during adolescence is one reason why ASRHrelated norms are often pervasive as gendered “meta norms,” such as child marriage, early pregnancy, violence against women, and more restricted mobility, schooling, economic opportunity, and decision-making for girls than boys .
This is also why such norms are not just perpetuated through shared social expectations but actively enforced through social sanctions that very clearly emphasize the underlying gendered power dynamics: there are real and sometimes brutal costs for girls and/or their families for violating norms that relate to sexuality and reproduction dranging from mistreatment,violence, abandonment, social or economic exclusion disfigurement,rape, or even death .
Therefore, it is critical to keep a focus on gender and power in ASRH social norm programming,
recognize and address the unique complexity of these norms, and challenge the underlying structures that perpetuate them.