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The discussions summarized in this report indicate that gender-based power inequalities hinder communication between partners, limit the ability of individuals and couples to talk about or achieve desired child spacing and family-size goals, limit effective use of reproductive health services, undercut men’s and women’s attainment of sexual health and pleasure, and increase substantially their vulnerabiliy to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. This report summarizes the proceedings of a meeting, co-sponsored by the Population Council and USAID’s Men and Reproductive Health Subcommittee, that responded to an increasing groundswell of interest in opening a dialogue on power in sexual relationships. The meeting concluded with the observation that women and men both have a great deal to gain from a change, at the individual level, in dynamics with partnerships, and at the level of the family. Likewise, at the community level, adjusting imbalances in power in sexual relationships contributes positively to the ability to contain the HIV/AIDS epidemic; foster effective, safe, and chosen fertility regulation; reduce maternal mortality; and improve child health. The report presents desirable next steps for translating this dialogue into action.


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