Reconceiving masculinity and 'men as partners' for ICPD Beyond 2014: insights from a Mexican HPV study

Glob Public Health. 2014;9(6):691-705. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2014.917690. Epub 2014 Jun 3.


Men are poorly integrated into sexual and reproductive health programmes, despite long-standing calls for their inclusion. From the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) to the Policy Recommendations for the ICPD Beyond 2014, calls for 'rights for all' conflict with implicit, homogenising framing of men as patriarchal roadblocks to women's empowerment. This framing generates ambivalence about providing men's services, leading to emphasis on 'men as partners' supporting women's autonomous reproductive health decision-making rather than attention to both sexes' health needs. We argue that this framing also belies both the global rise of self-consciously non-traditional masculinities, and the fact that people's ostensibly individual sexual and reproductive health practices are profoundly relational. Here, we reimagine the concept of 'partnering' as an analytic for understanding how lived relationships influence both men's and women's sexual and reproductive practice. 'Partnering' in this sense is the context-dependent collaboration through which a range of gendered actors, not limited to male-female dyads, interact to shape health behaviour. We apply this approach to Mexican men's participation in a medical research on human papillomavirus transmission, demonstrating how spouses jointly refashioned male-focused health surveillance into familial health care and a forum for promoting progressive gender norms to their children and the broader society.

Keywords: ICPD; Mexico; masculinity; men as partners.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alphapapillomavirus*
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Masculinity*
  • Mexico
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Reproductive Health Services
  • Sexual Partners
  • Young Adult