Unmet sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs are a critical threat to the health of individuals worldwide, and gender inequalities remain a significant barrier to addressing such health issues. Harmful gender norms and attitudes influence men’s and women’s health and well-being, shaping men’s behaviors in ways that have a direct impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of their partners, their families, and themselves. At the same time, SRH and family planning issues are often treated as women’s responsibility.
Working with Boys and Men
The Continuum of Male Engagement is a tool to assist efforts to effectively engage men in work to end gender based violence. Men are differently positioned in the degree to which they are willing and able to become engaged in efforts to prevent gender-based violence or promote gender equality. gender equality, along a continuum from ‘overtly hostile’ to ‘ready to lead’.
The Man Box: A study on being a young man in Australia is the first comprehensive study that focuses on the attitudes to manhood and the behaviours of young Australian men aged 18 to 30. It involved an online survey of a representative sample of 1,000 young men from across the country, as well as focus group discussions with two groups of young men.
Relevant to everyone interested in preventing men’s violence against women, a report about how men can align with the #MeToo movement is freely available.
Written for White Ribbon New Zealand, this recent report provides understanding of:
White Ribbon New Zealand's 2016 campaign focused on giving fathers in New Zealand the skills and confidence to talk about respectful relationships, including respectful sexual relationships, with their sons. One significant influence on boys' and young men's sexualities is pornography, and White Ribbon NZ addressed this in their campaign materials.
While a lot of effort and attention is being spent to “engage men” in addressing, responding to and preventing gender-based violence, the term has not been defined in any specific or concrete ways. There is some vague idea, often, about what it might mean for men to be engaged, but without a clearer understanding of what we mean by “engaging”, we’re often left with a lack of clarity in terms of goals, objectives and related activities.
There seem to be at least five distinct but often overlapping goals that people are referring to when they use the term engaging men (with some of the questions that frequently arise in that goal area):
There has been progress towards gender equality in countries around the world. And increasingly, men are being invited to help build gender equality. There is a growing belief that men have a vital role to play in working with women to create a world of gender justice, in campaigns such as HeForShe and in programs addressing domestic violence, parenting, and health. But is gender equality good for men? What do men gain from more gender-equal relationships, families, and communities? What do men lose? Does feminism need men, and do men need feminism?
When profeminist men are alleged to have perpetrated abuse or harassment: How should the alleged abuser respond? How should friends and colleagues respond? Does this change how we see the alleged abuser’s work? Can the alleged abuser stay in public roles?
How do we prevent our sons from becoming rapists?
Media headlines lately have been dominated by violence – young men’s violence against other men outside pubs and in the street, and men’s sexual assaults of women. Most boys and men do not use violence. But a minority do. The confronting truth is, some of the boys growing up right now will force or pressure a girl or woman into sex.
Meaningful engagement with men and boys is increasingly recognized as critical to gender equality and equity, necessary not only for women’s empowerment, but also for transforming the social and gender norms that reinforce patriarchy and inequality and harm both women and men. The primary challenge embedded in this work is how to engage men and boys effectively without instrumentalizing them as a pathway to women’s empowerment on the one hand, or marginalizing women and girls in gender equity work on the other.