Promoting gender equality and strengthening women’s voice

CARE partners with communities to challenge and transform the inequitable gender norms that restrict women’s and girls’ ability to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights. We work with community leaders and engage men and boys as allies in transformative change for gender justice. We mobilize women and girls to understand and claim their rights through participatory models and approaches. We prioritize elevating women’s voices in advocacy efforts and policy debates to ensure that women’s lived experiences meaningfully inform development priorities and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) policies and programs.

To demonstrate that we “walk the talk” on gender norm transformation, CARE first approaches these issues with our own staff using Social Analysis and Action (SAA).


Social Analysis and Action

SAA is a facilitated process through which individuals and communities explore and challenge the social norms, beliefs and practices that shape their lives and health. The goal of SAA is to catalyze a community-led change process through which participants challenge restrictive norms and act together to create more equitable ones, while building community support for sexual, reproductive, and maternal health and rights. Unique and central to SAA is that the process of critical reflection and dialogue begins with CARE staff and SAA facilitators. This part of the process is designed to help our staff to reflect on their own biases and beliefs, and to make them more comfortable discussing sensitive issues and hearing new ideas and perspectives.

The SAA process has three core elements: 1) reflection, dialogue and exploration, 2) envisioning alternatives and challenging harmful norms, and 3) action to challenge norms that act as barriers to sexual and reproductive health. It has been used in SRHR programming around the world, including in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Mali, Madagascar, and Honduras.


For more evidence, information, and guidance on SAA, visit our resources page.


SAA Projects

Abdiboru (Ethiopia)
This project aims to address structural determinants (agency, government institutions, and social norms) that act as barriers to empowerment in order to improve health, education, and economic outcomes for adolescent girls.

AMAL Initiative (Syria)
This project aims to support pregnant adolescents’ access to SRH information and services.

ProJeunes (Benin)
This project aims to promote adolescent SRHR in Benin, including the reduction of child, early, and forced marriage.

Projet Espoir (Mali)
This project aimed to improve maternal health – with a specific focus on safe delivery practices – by improving the quality of care at local health centers and challenging social, gender, and cultural norms that inhibit women’s access to essential health services before, during, and after childbirth.

HAMORIS (Timor Leste)
This project aims to contribute to lasting reductions in maternal mortality and disability by increasing the number of women in targeted communities utilizing appropriate and quality maternal health services.

TAMANI (Tanzania)
This project aims to empower regional and district level health planners to effectively plan for, and deliver respectful and skilled reproductive health care, improve the skills of health care workers to effectively manage labor and delivery, and support communities to address local barriers that impede access to sexual and reproductive health care, especially for women and girls.

Tekponen Jikuagou (Benin)
This project aimed to address unmet need for family planning by applying social network theory and analysis to move from targeting individuals with behavior change activities to thinking of individuals as members of formal and informal networks that influence behaviors.

TESFA (Ethiopia)
This project aimed to address unmet need for family planning by applying social network theory and analysis to move from targeting individuals with behavior change activities to thinking of individuals as members of formal and informal networks that influence behaviors.



As we work to transform gender norms that harm women and girls and prevent them from fully exercising their rights to be healthy and free from violence, we recognize the importance of measuring change as it happens. To strengthen and standardize the measurement of women’s empowerment in our programs, CARE developed a multidimensional quantitative survey tool. The tool – called WE-MEASR (Women’s Empowerment – Multidimensional Evaluation of Agency, Social Capital & Relations) – is designed for use with women and consists of 20 short scales that measure women’s empowerment in domains critical to SRHR.

The scales are aligned with CARE’s theoretical framework for women’s empowerment, which outlines three overarching domains of change essential to ensuring meaningful empowerment of women: individual agency, relations, and structure. Programs can utilize the entire set of WE-MEASR scales or select a sub-set of scales that measure the specific dimensions of empowerment that their program is designed to influence.

For more information on WE-MEASR, visit our resources page.


Our Approach:

SRHR How 2: Promote Inclusive Governance

Promote Inclusive Governance

Everyone deserves a voice in life-changing policies.

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With funding from the Levi Strauss Foundation, CARE conducts lunchtime awareness sessions on topics such as health, hygiene and nutrition.

SRHR How 3: Resilience and Risk Reduction

Increase Resilience and Risk Reduction

Equipping communities to rebound quickly after crisis.

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Residents of Bafodia wait their turn at a maternal health care center supported by CARE.

SRHR How 4: Form Strategic Partnerships

Form Strategic Partnerships

We cannot increase global health access alone. 

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Kanat Kebele, South Gondar. Nigist* (name has been changed) is 9 years old and in grade 3 at school. She likes math and wants to be doctor.

SRHR How 3: Resilience and Risk Reduction


Keeping sexual and reproductive health and rights on the agenda.

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