Any assessment of the evidence for gender transformative work with men and boys should consider the conditions that have shaped the emergence of this work. Male-focused gender transformative work has a history, or rather histories. Reviewing its evidence base in light of the forces and factors which have informed its emergence over time enriches our understanding of both the findings from, and the silences within, this body of work.
This discussion paper assesses the evidence base of the “men for gender equality” field in light of three aspects of its emergence as a field, namely:
- its un-interrogated use of the category of “men”,
- its recourse to social psychological accounts of gender norms,
- and the implications of its NGO form for its ability to collaborate with and be accountable to resurgent intersectional feminist mobilizations.
The paper proposes four directions for the “men for gender equality” field:
- It must focus on the gendered operations of power and injustice, specifically the uses to which masculinities are put in the maintenance of social hierarchies.
- It must press for political as well as policy change.
- This, in turn, calls for more “movement” and less “field”: a greater orientation towards anti-patriarchal social action.
- Finally, such social action requires that evidence-building and evidence-based practice be reoriented toward the extended timelines and complex processes of social change.
This paper is part of the “UN Women discussion paper series”.