Exploring the role of gender norms in nutrition and sexual health promotion in a piloted school-based intervention: The Philadelphia Ujima™ experience

Ana Núñez, Candace Robertson-James, Serita Reels, Janay Jeter, Hilda Rivera, Zena Yusuf, Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Perceptions of masculinity and femininity influence behaviors and can be identified in young children and adolescents (. Brannon, 2004). Thus, adolescents' engagement in health risk or promoting behaviors is influenced by perceptions of masculinity and femininity and the differences in expectations, norms and responsibilities for girls and boys (. WHO, 2007). Girls and boys have different needs, and gender-based interventions that consider similarities as well as differences are needed. A gender-based nutrition and sexual health promotion program was developed and piloted by the Philadelphia Ujima Coalition in a high school setting. To explore the gender differences in adolescents' perceptions of the influence of gender norms on weight, nutrition, physical activity, and sexual health and the implication of these differences in future gender-integrated health promotion programming for youth, a content analysis of student and facilitator debriefing forms were implemented for the participating schools. The content analysis was used to identify central themes, concepts gained, and overall impact of the intervention sessions. Overall, gender norms influence healthy eating practices and activity through influencing perceptions of body type in adolescents. Gender norms also influence sexual activity and decision making through influencing perceptions of beauty, masculinity, femininity, pressures and popular concepts related to sexual activity. Thus, interventions that address gender may more effectively promote health and wellness in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-77
Number of pages8
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge and appreciate the Office on Women's Health , Coalition for a Healthier Community Program (Grant No. 1 CCEWH111020-01-00 ), for funding this project. We also thank the Coalition partner schools, liaisons, coordinators and students who participated in this pilot program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Adolescents
  • Gender
  • Health promotion


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