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The 'social' in 'psychosocial': how gender norms drive psychosocial distress

Toolkit/guidelines

Written by Fiona Samuels

Hero image description: Girls playing at women and girls' wellness centre, Tsore refugee camp Image credit:UNICEF Ethiopia Image license:CC-BY-NC-ND

Norms are part of everyday life. They influence and guide attitudes and behaviours, and they are produced and reproduced both formally and informally through a range of mechanisms and institutions, including social interactions.

Many of these norms are gendered and discriminatory, often affecting girls and women more than boys and men. Hence, largely as girls enter puberty, they are often forced into early marriage, expected to bear male offspring, anticipated to drop out of school and encouraged not to, or prevented from, seeing or talking to other males.

This guide examines the effects of these gendered norms and how far-reaching they are. Gendered norms touch on most domains of a person’s life, including on their mental health and psychosocial well-being, and can result in girls and women facing isolation, depression, anxiety, fear and sometimes even contemplating or carrying out suicide. 

Girls playing at women and girls' wellness centre, Tsore refugee camp
Fiona Samuels