CARE believes that, while men and boys are part of the problem, they must also become a greater part of the solution.
In the Balkans, we’ve pioneered an approach that shows men and boys can be allies and champions for change. This work with young men has helped change attitudes and behaviour – and stop the cycle of violence from spreading to the next generation.
CARE found that after taking part in the Young Men Initiative:
- Boys had more equitable attitudes towards women
- Boys were less likely to think violence is acceptable — both violence against women and as a general solution to their problems
- Boys had more open ideas about what it meant to be a man
Mislav Mandir, one of the participants, said he now no longer believed "that to be a real man, you have to fight". Uros Radulovic said: "I began to respect girls and women more, and also respect people's opinions, differences and diversity."
How it works
Alongside drama and sport activities, young men attend workshops on gender roles, violence and sex. Prejudices concerning 'typical women’s work' and what it means to be a man are discussed and questioned. (If you want to find out more, take a look at this video about the Young Men Initiative.)
Research into this and similar initiatives shows:
- Boys involved in programs that promote non-violent lifestyles are more likely to support women’s equality
- Programmes that work to transform gender norms and engage men are more likely to be successful
That's because participants don't just change their own attitudes - they act as champions for change in their communities. Gramos Salihu, a 16-year-old from Pristina, encourages friends and family members to get involved: “I want everyone to become part of it.”
Get it on the curriculum
Governments in the Balkans have recognised that this approach can really make a difference - and have added compulsory teaching onto their school curriculums. Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo have approved and accredited the programme for all secondary schools, and are training teachers to deliver the programme.
It's a lesson the world can learn from - and that's why CARE is calling on governments throughout the world to include teaching on gender equality and ending violence against women in their national curriculums.
Don't just take our word for it
Emir Piric, a high school student from Sarajevo, said: "Be a Man Club at school was a real turning point for me. What I learned there made me start questioning many of my beliefs, and I realised how harmful and destructive they were for me as well as for my friends...
"Change does not happen overnight, but it is a very interesting and motivating process to become a better person. It was a real discovery for me to realise that we all have the power to change from within. Instead of fighting and causing trouble... I want to work with other young people who are stuck on the wrong path like I was...
"As a result, I am a better student, a better friend, a much better playmate, and I hope I will be a better man."