men, masculinities and gender politics


Gary Barker

Gender: A one-page introduction


The following provides a handy, one-page introduction to gender. It notes that gender is socially constructed, gender is both personal and collective, gender involves power and inequality, and there is diversity and hierarchy

WHO Policy Brief: Policy Approaches to Involving Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality and Health Equity

Work with men has demonstrated significant potential in contributing to building gender equality and improving the health of women and men. However, most work with men has tended to be local in scale and limited in scope. To be more widely effective, that is to transform the pervasive gender inequalities which characterize many societies globally – efforts to transform men’s behaviour require to be significantly scaled up. Policy processes and mechanisms are key elements in any effort to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality.
This Policy Brief:

How do we know if men have changed? Promoting and measuring attitude change with young men (2003)

Within the fields of sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention and gender equity, there has been a growing consensus of the need to engage young men. Many of the major UN agencies working in health, gender and HIV/AIDS -- including UNFPA, WHO, PAHO, the World Bank, and UNAIDS -- have all confirmed the importance of engaging boys and young men in the promotion of health and gender equity.

A growing body of research on young men (15-24) affirms numerous reasons for focusing attention on their socialization.

Boys in the Picture: Adolescent boys' health (2000)


Boys in the Picture (2000) is an advocacy document that stresses the importance of including boys in programming for adolescent sexual and reproductive health. This 32-page overview is in four languages. As it concludes, "Making a case for increasing attention to the health, development and wellbeing of adolescent boys and young men is necessary and timely. Increasing the attention to boys is a matter of gender equity and benefits accrue not only to adolescent boys and young men, but also to adolescent girls, women, children, men and communities."

Project H: Working with Young Men

ISSUE: Four Latin American NGOs have collaborated with PROMUNDO Institute (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) since 1998 to call greater attention to the needs and realities of young men ages 15-24 in sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and gender violence prevention, and to engage them in HIV/AIDS prevention.

Boys and Changing Gender Roles (2005)

Emerging programme approaches hold promise in changing gender norms and behaviours among boys and young men, according to this four-page piece from YouthNet, published in 2005.

What about Boys? A Literature Review on the Health and Development of Adolescent Boys (2000)


Assumptions are often made about the health and development of adolescent boys: that they are faring well, and supposedly have fewer health needs and developmental risks compared to adolescent girls; and that adolescent boys are disruptive, aggressive and ìhard to work withi. This last statement focuses on specific aspects of boysí behaviour and development - such as violence and delinquency - criticizing and sometimes criminalizing their behaviour without adequately understanding the reasons behind it.

My father didn't think this way: Nigerian boys contemplate gender equality (2003)

This report describes a programme for adolescent boys in Nigeria which seeks to increase boys' awareness of gender-based oppression, and to foster their critical thinking skills as a means to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in their communities.

Engaging boys and men to empower girls: Reflections from practice and evidence of impact (2006)

What can be done to change the social norms that drive the behaviors of men and boys that leave girls vulnerable? The vulnerabilities and disadvantages that girls face emerge directly out of social constructions of gender – identities, attributes, socially expected roles and the social structures set up to enforce those roles. … In bringing men and boys into the question, we want to make it clear that this is not to propose an either-or argument, of whether we should devote more time and resources to engaging men and boys in redressing gender inequalities versus working directly with girls to protect and empower them. Both must happen.