"There is plenty of work to do to build a more gender-equal culture. And men – men who care for women, men who care for justice and equality, and men who care for the wellbeing of our communities and society – have a vital role to play. Whether a man wears a hard hat and a high vis vest, or a suit and tie, whether he works in a cubicle or he’s got a corner office, he can make a difference. Men can join with women, to help build gender equality."
Working with Boys and Men
There is great interest these days in the role that men can play in building gender equality. Beginning perhaps in the mid-1990s, we’ve seen a significant increase in attention to men’s roles in building gender equality. This was signalled by various developments.
Consent education among young people is an important strategy for the prevention and reduction of sexual violence. Consent education is one form of ‘respectful relationships’ or ‘healthy relationships’ education, and there is a wealth of research on effective practice in this field.
In this article, I cover three areas:
Masculine gender norms substantially shape the lives of men and boys in a range of different ways.
New toolkit identifies how to reduce backlash and build support in engaging men in violence prevention and gender equality work
Efforts to prevent domestic violence and build gender equality in Australia often meet resistance. Some people push back, responding with criticism and hostility to education or training or to community campaigns. A new guide provides practical strategies for practitioners, advocates, and educators in reducing resistance and building support.
Sexual consent comprises an agreement to participate in a specific sexual activity. It involves feeling safe, respected, comfortable, enthusiastic, informed, and self-determined. For consent to be genuine, it must be given freely and voluntarily. Consent must be active and demonstrated throughout the whole sexual encounter (RASARA, 2021, pp. 1-2).
Much of the work to engage men in preventing violence against women across the globe is profeminist — it is informed by feminist perspectives and done by or in collaboration with women and women’s organisations. Men involved in this work typically are expected to support feminism and to be accountable to women and feminism. But which feminism should profeminist men support? There has been relatively little discussion of this question in the ‘engaging men’ field.
It is 25 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women and its adoption of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. For all of those who are committed to the visions of gender equality, human rights and social justice expressed in the Beijing Platform for Action and subsequent international declarations and agreements, 2020 was to have been a year of taking stock of progress made and debating priorities and strategies to advance towards these visions.
I have five messages today.
Over the past decade, men's involvement in anti-domestic violence in China has made great progress.
In 2010, the first male-led "male anti-domestic violence hotline" was set up in China, which was officially committed to promoting men's participation in social movements against gender violence. The hotline is open round-the-clock throughout the whole year, which also marks a new era of sustained work and development of China's Male Participation movement from this year on.