Male involvement in PMTCT programs still remains a big problem for the service providers to achieve in Uganda even though it is widely believed to be very important in improving uptake of the PMTCT interventions by women and a means of achieving gender equity and women empowerment in this program. Records from the hospitals and ministry of Health in Uganda indicate that there is low male involvement in PMTCT programs in Uganda and this in turn has led to low uptake of PMTCT services by the women. This study therefore tries to examine why there is low male involvement in PMTCT programs from a gender perspective by focusing on how notions and practices of masculinity, femininity, gender hierarchies and reproductive responsibilities affect male involvement thus illustrating the relevance of dominant notions and practices of masculinity for male involvement in the PMTCT programs. My findings suggest that male involvement in PMTCT programs is deeply intertwined with hegemonic masculinities and intensified by local socio-cultural influences on what is expected of the man. Hegemonic understandings of masculinity in this cultural context define ‘real men’ as strong, able to withstand some illnesses, tough and fearless, knowledgeable .Men are not only expected to abide by such norms, but also play an active role in constructing such representations so as continually demonstrate their manhood in the community. Social practices that affect male involvement in PMTCT programs are a means of showing off masculinity and men use them as instruments in the negotiation of social power and status. This coupled with their role as breadwinners, makes it important for many men to reassert their masculinity by not involving themselves in programs that are closely associated with women or feminine characteristics. This study also brings out how notions and practices of hegemonic masculinity and gender hierarchies are reproduced and maintained in the PMTCT program and by practitioners in their actions and processes of service provision thus providing low opportunities for promoting gender equity and women empowerment in the program which are one of the major aims of male involvement in the program. I conclude that certain practices and assumptions of masculinity and manhood are socially constructed, reproduced and maintained through complex social configurations and men as potential beneficiaries, women, designers of PMTCT policies and medical practitioners as implementers of the program need address the role of men and transform many aspects of men’s behaviour, attitudes and social relations, as well as wider structural forces and relations that create and sustain harmful or oppressive forms of masculinity. They also need to redefine these constructions in order to rip the benefits of development programs such as PMTCT.

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Keysers , Loes
Women, Gender, Development (WGD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Ikalany, Betty. (2011, December 15). Male involvement in Prevention of Mother- to- Child Transmission (PMTCT) Programs in Uganda: A case study of Soroti District. Women, Gender, Development (WGD). Retrieved from