Engaging men and boys

Laura Bates (founder of the Everyday Sexism Project) meets a member of our Young Men Initiative in Kosovo, that works with young men to challenge and change attitudes to gender-based violence and inequality

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Men and boys can be champions for gender equality

Poverty is directly connected to gender inequality. Men and boys in the communities where we work increasingly understand this and are vital partners in our efforts to empower girls and women. In the communities where men and boys are most actively engaged in our work, real and lasting change is more likely to take hold – change that benefits everyone.

Christine Munalula, programme manager for gender equality with CARE Zambia, puts it like this:

When you are involving men, and when they come to an understanding of the gender issues we are talking about, they become partners and they also contribute to the change.

Tackling gender-based violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global challenge, happening everywhere. So tackling GBV means challenging attitudes, everywhere. As part of the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV campaign, CARE Norway released a hard-hitting video asking men and boys to challenge the attitudes that lead to violence against women and girls. (Please note: this video contains explicit language and graphic content.)

Engaging men to tackle gender-based violence

CARE believes that men and boys must become a greater part of the solution to the problem of gender-based violence.

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. Watch this short documentary about Dragan, who describes in his own words how the Be A Man club helped him turn away from violence and have a stronger sense of his own identity and worth (video made by Liz Mermin for the Thomson Reuters Foundation):

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
  • Boys had more open ideas about what it meant to be a man

I began to respect girls and women more, and also respect people’s opinions, differences and diversity. – Uros Radulovic, participant in the Young Men Initiative

Research into this and similar initiatives shows:

  • Boys involved in programmes 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. As Gramos Salihu, a 16-year-old from Pristina, says:

I want everyone to become part of it.

Working with boys and men to challenge attitudes

CARE works at all levels, with families, communities, leaders, governments and the media – for example, we’re using our successful village savings and loan approach to bring women, men and communities together to discuss issues around gender attitudes and roles, gender-based violence and gender inequality.

And where we work, we find that men want to challenge themselves, improve themselves and do their part in improving the lives of others. As Jean Nimubona, coordinator of our MenEngage project in Burundi, says:

I believe we have to put our efforts together, men, boys and women, so that we can achieve gender equality.

Watch this short video about CARE's Pathways programme in Tanzania: