New study identifies key research priorities for masculinities and SRHR

A joint global research effort by Queen’s University Belfast, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), MenEngage Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO), has identified key research priorities for engaging men and boys in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Published in The Lancet, the study identifies 26 priority questions as important future research avenues for understanding and advancing men and boys’ engagement in SRHR in the context of gender justice and human rights efforts. The results are available to explore via an interactive chart available on the WHO website

The findings were presented at a hybrid event on 1 May 2024 in New York, on the sidelines of the 57th session of the Conference on Population and Development (CPD57). You can see the event recording here and this thread on X for some highlights from the event.

Many members and partners of MenEngage Alliance were involved in the research, providing expertise and insights to inform the next generation of SRHR research around men and boys. To ensure a diverse and inclusive approach, 200 researchers, policymakers, and civil society organizations from 60 countries were identified to take part, accounting for:

  • the overlaps and gaps of the field,
  • how different stakeholders approach SRHR, and 
  • how existing evidence over/under represents voices, view points, needs related to SRHR and gender equality.

Additionally, the stakeholders included those working on engaging men and boys and addressing masculinities in a variety of SRHR areas such as: 

  • family planning, contraception, and abortion; 
  • HIV/STI prevention and treatment; 
  • access to sexual and reproductive health services and care; 
  • teen pregnancy; sexuality and sex education; 
  • Gender-based violence prevention, gender education and social norms change; 
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM), women’s and girls’ rights; 
  • LGBTIQ access to care and rights around sexual orientation, gender expression and identity, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC);  
  • menstrual rights, gender equality, maternal and child health, pre-post natal care, fatherhood and care work. 

MenEngage Alliance wishes to thank  the many members and partners  whose time and expertise helped inform the results of this study. 

MenEngage Alliance understands that work around men, boys and SRHR is part of the broader work of transforming patriarchal masculinities and working with men and boys for gender justice. This is a long term process and we strive to promote work with men and masculinities that is intersectional, feminist, and collaborative. 

Click here to learn more about the work of MenEngage Alliance around SRHR.

Further details are reproduced below from an article originally published by WHO , with permission and minor modifications. 


Masculinities and sexual and reproductive health and rights: a global research priority setting exercise,” published in The Lancet Global Health, explores how research on engaging men and boys has often neglected how to address harmful masculinities in ways that promote gender equality in many sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes.

“Promoting sexual and reproductive health rights requires challenging harmful and unequal gender power relations by working with men alongside women,” said co-author Dr Maria Lohan, UNESCO Chair in Masculinities and Gender Equality at Queen’s University Belfast.

For the new priority research agenda, the team first established several overarching themes to address this evidence gap:

  • understanding masculinities, equality, and SRHR;
  • improving programmes to advance gender equality by addressing masculinities in the context of SRHR;
  • improving the ways we research gender norms and SRHR; and
  • improving equitable and rights-based services and policies at scale.

The researchers asked experts from academic institutions and civil society to identify and rank the most important questions, across these themes, regarding how to address harmful gender norms related to masculinities in SRHR programmes.

Results showed that some of the top-ranked questions focused on how gender norms impact on SRHR; how to engage men and boys in development, delivery and evaluation of SRHR programmes/services; how to implement gender-transformative approaches to engaging men and boys, including through comprehensive sexuality education; and what are the diverse SRHR needs of men and boys.

The research agenda comes on the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD PoA), which was a landmark for SRHR and that for the first time flagged the importance of working with men and boys. It builds on three decades of work done by researchers, activists and practitioners on engaging men and boys and lays out priorities to advance gender equality in sexual and reproductive health for the future. This shared research agenda should guide the kind of evidence-building that is necessary for gender equality in sexual and reproductive health, and it is important that funding is directed accordingly, according to co-author Dr Avni Amin, a Unit Head at WHO’s Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research.

“The exercise leading to this research agenda was extensive and included stakeholders from different contexts and practices, it strived to reflect their concerns” said co-author Magaly Marques, Senior Advisor for MenEngage Alliance. “The result is a shared agenda to guide future investments in work on masculinities in SRHR that truly aligns with the field’s gender equality goals.” 

This study was conducted by the UN’s Special Programme on Human Reproduction (HRP), the World Health Organization (WHO), along with Queen’s University Belfast, MenEngage Global Alliance, University of Western Cape and Stellenbosch University.


Written by Muhammad Khurram, communications intern at the Global Secretariat of MenEngage Alliance.

Cover image by: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/Images of Empowerment

13 May 2024