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Innovation & Approach

Gender Equity

Pathfinder supports every person, no matter their gender, to make critical decisions about their lives, including whether or when to marry and have children.

Creating a Gender-Equitable World

We advocate for policies and run programs that build more gender-equitable societies. Our programs shift harmful gender norms holding women, girls, and people of all genders back.

In 2023, Pathfinder is rated as a “Very High Performer” for workplace gender/diversity policies by Global Health 50/50. Internally, Pathfinder is guided by a gender equity strategy that includes gender equity standards for all programs, equity-based policies and practices, an inclusive definition of gender, and gender equity requirements for all contracts and agreements.  

Pathfinder’s definition of gender:

Gender refers to the roles, responsibilities, characteristics, and behaviors that a given society associates with our identities as women, girls, men, boys, or non-binary people. Gender is socially and culturally constructed, so our understandings of gender differ across contexts and over time. Gender influences what is expected of each of us, the power we have in society, how we relate to others, and the norms to which we are expected to conform. Gender is a distinct concept and not the same as sex classification, which is typically assigned at birth.

Women’s and Girls’ Agency

Gender equity is our goal across every program we run. Pathfinder removes barriers to women and girls exercising agency over their lives by:  

  • Transforming harmful gender norms.  
  • Reducing the impact of gender-based violence on sexual and reproductive health and rights. 
  • Changing the policies, structures, and systems that hold women, girls, and people of all genders back.

Male Engagement

Globally, 45 percent of women and girls still cannot make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.  

Pathfinder engages women and men in transforming gender norms and balancing power within families. We constructively engage men and boys as individuals, within couples and communities, and through health facilities as partners and advocates for gender equality. 

Gender-Based Violence Response

We support health providers and facilities to improve the health sector response to gender-based violence. And more generally, we strengthen all health services and systems to be more gender responsive and equitable to better meet the needs of clients and communities. 

Policymaking for Gender Equality 

Women are 70 percent of the global health workforce but hold on 25 percent of roles. We partner with local organizations to support women in health leadership roles, and to advance gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights. 

Pathfinder works in local and global coalitions to advocate for laws and policies that contribute to gender equality; promote policies that support the agency and rights of women, girls, and marginalized groups; and, ensure health and key equity measures are disaggregated by sex and age.

Countries using this approach
Featured Projects

YUVAA: Youth Voices for Agency and Access

Combining social entrepreneurship and innovative communication approaches, YUVVA improves access to contraceptive choices and positively shifts gender and social norms…

USAID/Egypt Women’s Economic and Social Empowerment Program

For nearly 40 years, Pathfinder has partnered with the Government of Egypt to advance reproductive health and rights, economic opportunity,…

Shukhi Jibon

In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, this project provides adaptive, needs-driven technical assistance and systems strengthening…

Ma’an (Together)

Ma’an (Together) strengthens the capacity of local service providers (non-governmental, private, and community) to respond to the family planning and…

USAID/Uganda Family Planning Activity

Pathfinder is implementing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Uganda Family Planning Activity that will address underlying social, cultural,…


Supporting Family Planning and Abortion Services, locally known as Impacto, has improved gender equality in nine districts in two provinces…

Act With Her

We take a panoramic approach to partnering with adolescent girls in laying the health, education, economic, and social foundations that they…

Advancing the Leadership of Women and Girls Towards Better Health and Climate Change Resilience

This program, funded by Takeda, builds the resilience of communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan to withstand climate shocks and emergencies…

Featured Stories & Perspectives

Five Daring African Women to Know for International Women’s Day

Imagine a gender-equal world. Women are free to make choices about their bodies and future. There are equal opportunities for…

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Featured Stories & Perspectives

Why Gender Standards Matter

In the baking world, we often see sprinkles as a garnish or afterthought. Have a bland muffin?! Add some sprinkles!…

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Featured Stories & Perspectives

Interactive Games to Further Gender Equality and Family Health in Egypt

Gender equality starts at home with the family, said Hamdia Yassin Ahmed, who works with Pathfinder’s Ma’an project in Egypt.…

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Featured Stories & Perspectives

Honoring All Identities — Adopting a New Definition of Gender at Pathfinder

When I studied gender in graduate school almost 20 years ago, I learned about gender as binary—that people largely identified…

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