2021 Equality, Health and Social Protection Analysis

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Measuring Values and Norms to Guide Swedish Development Cooperation

Anna Kågesten, Karin Båge, Jesper Sundewall, Helena Litorp, Bi Puranen, Olalekan Uthman, Anna Mia Ekström

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender are closely linked with cultural and societal values and norms. This EBA report aims to improve the understanding of norms and values that undermine – or support – SRHR, and identify avenues for Swedish development cooperation to find ways to relate to these norms and values.

The authors have collected primary data on social values and norms through large national surveys in collaboration with the World Values Survey in three African countries: Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. They have also mapped Swedish development assistance within SRHR in Africa between 2010 and 2018, and analysed how Sida’s work relates to SRHR values and norms.

Key conclusions:

  • In Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, discriminatory norms are more common in relation to sexual and reproductive rights, compared to sexual and reproductive health.
  • Discriminatory norms are especially common as they relate to LGBTQI people’s rights, but also in relation to other areas such as abortion, women’s decision-making, divorce and adolescents’ sexuality and right to choose partner.
  • The share of Swedish SRHR development assistance that is focused on rights has increased over time, while the share that is focused on health has decreased.

Advancing SRHR for all necessitates measuring and addressing values and social norms, and appropriately contextualising and grounding any discussion or intervention activities in relevant human rights-based policy frameworks.