Comment | Published:

Addressing harmful and unequal gender norms in early adolescence

Early adolescence (age 10–14) is an important window of opportunity to address gender socialization as the basis for health and social justice. This Comment explains why this is the case and provides illustrative examples of existing evidence on strategies to promote gender equitable attitudes in young adolescents.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    John, N. A. et al. Gender Socialization During Adolescence in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Conceptualization, Influences and Outcomes. (UNICEF, New York, NY, 2017).

  2. 2.

    Global Health Estimates 2015: Deaths by Cause, Age, Sex, by Country and by Region, 2000–2015 (WHO, Geneva, 2016).

  3. 3.

    A Statistical Snapshot of Violence Against Adolescent Girls (UNICEF, New York, NY, 2014).

  4. 4.

    Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!): Guidance to Support Country Implementation (WHO, Geneva, 2017).

  5. 5.

    Global Education Monitoring Report 2016: Gender Review (UNESCO, Paris, 2016).

  6. 6.

    Kagesten, A. et al. PLoS ONE 11, e0157805 (2016).

  7. 7.

    Chandra-Mouli, V. et al. J. Adolesc. Health 61, S5–S9 (2017).

  8. 8.

    Global Education Monitoring Report, Policy Paper 28: Textbooks Pave the Way to Sustainable Development (UNESCO, Paris, 2016).

  9. 9.

    Anderson, H. & Daniels, M. Film dialogue from 2000 screenplays, broken down by gender and age. Polygraph (2016).

  10. 10.

    Grau, S. L. & Zotos, Y. Int. J. Advert. 35, 761–770 (2016).

  11. 11.

    Transformative Accountability for Adolescents: Accountability for the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents in the 2030 Agenda (WHO, Geneva, 2017).

  12. 12.

    Tackling Child Marriage and Early Childbearing in India: Lessons from Young Lives (Young Lives, Oxford, 2016).

  13. 13.

    Blakemore, S. & Mills, K. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 65, 9.1–9.21 (2014).

  14. 14.

    Gender and Adolescence: Why Understanding Adolescent Capabilities, Change Strategies and Contexts Matters (GAGE Consortium, London, 2017).

Download references


This work was funded by the UNDP–UNFPA–UNICEF–WHO–World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), a cosponsored programme executed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Author information

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli.

Rights and permissions

To obtain permission to re-use content from this article visit RightsLink.

About this article