Mainstreaming Men in Gender Practice and Policy
Dr Michael Flood
Presentation to AusAID Gender Seminar Series, December 8 2005.
Across the globe, there is growing interest in the question of boys’ and men’s roles in fostering gender equality. The belief that it is desirable to involve men in efforts towards gender equality is rapidly becoming institutionalised in the philosophies and programs of international organisations.
In today’s presentation, I explore the issue of involving men in gender policy and practice. I begin with a short outline of the rationale for this inclusion. But the bulk of this presentation examines the practical and political issues involved in ‘mainstreaming men’. I will focus in particular on strategies for involving, educating, and mobilising men.
I will make some comments on the field of development, but much of my discussion is relevant for involving men in any field of gender-related policy or practice.
Reasons to engage men / to integrate men into work and policy on gender issues
(1) Recognition of men as gendered, and increasing focus on gender relations
The impetus for male inclusion is associated with an important shift in how gender issues are conceived and addressed.
Men have always been part of the policies and practices of development work, but often they have been treated as generic and ungendered representatives of all humanity, thus perpetuating masculine norms and gender inequalities. The agenda of engaging men is not novel because of whom it addresses, but how. It addresses men as men — as gendered beings who participate in gender relations.
The shift from ‘women in development’ to ‘gender and development’ approaches embodied a shift towards a more overt focus on gender relations and the aim of creating structural changes in male-female power relations.
(2) Recognition of men’s roles in maintaining gender inequality
A second impetus is the recognition that many men’s attitudes and behaviours will need to change in order for gender equality to be achieved. Many men participate in sexist practices and the maintenance of unjust gender relations, men often play a crucial role as ‘gatekeepers’ of the current gender order and as decision makers and community leaders, and patterns of gender injustice are tied to social constructions of masculinity and male identity.
Men and boys are unavoidably involved in gender issues. Including men in gender work is necessary because gender inequality is intimately tied to men’s practices and identities, men’s participation in complex and diverse gender relations, and masculine discourses and culture.
(3) Recognition of men’s roles (and stake) in fostering gender equality
Gender work with men has been fuelled also by a third and more hopeful insight: that men have a positive role to play in fostering gender equality. There is growing recognition that gender inequality is an issue of concern to women and men alike and that men have a stake in ending gender inequality.
Some men are living already in gender-just ways: they respect and care for the women and girls in their lives, and they reject sexist norms of manhood. And some men already are playing a role in fostering gender equality. Individual men in trade unions and government organisations have been important advocates for women’s rights. Small numbers of men are engaged in public efforts in support of gender equality, in such fields as violence against women and HIV/AIDS.
Many men receive formal and informal benefits from gender inequalities, including material rewards and interpersonal power. At the same time, men also pay significant costs, particularly to their emotional and physical health. More widely, men can be and are motivated by interests other than those associated with gender privilege, as I’ll discuss in a moment.
There are further reasons to involve men.
(4) The detrimental effects of male exclusion and positive effects of male inclusion
Detrimental effects of male exclusion
Can provoke male hostility and retaliation.
Can leave women with yet more work to do and thus intensify gender inequalities. Women still have to deal with unsympathetic men and patriarchal power relations.
Positive effects of male inclusion
Given that many women already interact with men on a daily basis in their households and public lives, involving men can make interventions more relevant and workable.
Male inclusion increases men’s responsibility for change, can increase men’s belief that they too will gain from gender equality, and can engage men directly in the renegotiation of gender relations.
Dangers / dilemmas in doing so…
However, male inclusion also involves dangers. Involving men in gender policy and programming can mean;
Threatening funding and resources for programs and services directed at women (in a context where these are already under threat).
The dilution of feminist content and orientation of services and a weakening of the impetus for justice for women.
Men taking over.
Communicating a false sense of symmetry between women’s and men’s social positions.
Some key principles for male involvement
Feminist content and frameworks
Any incorporation of men and men’s gendered issues should further feminist goals. The rationale of gender equality must be kept central. In other words, we must frame male involvement within a clear feminist political agenda.
Partnerships with women and women’s groups
This work must be done in partnership with, and even be accountable to, women and women’s groups.
Protection of ‘women’s space’, women-only, and women-focused programs.
And we must protect ‘women’s space’, women-only, and women-focused programs. These are vital, e.g. to support those who are most disadvantaged by pervasive gender inequalities; to maintain women’s solidarity and leadership; and to foster women’s consciousness-raising and collective empowerment.
Principles of practice
The best involvements in men’s or boys’ issues, whether as an educator, a policy-maker, or activist, are guided by three interrelated principles: they are male-positive, they are gender-just, and they recognise diversity and are inclusive.
To be male-positive is to be affirming of boys and men and optimistic about them; to believe that men can change; to support every man’s efforts at positive change. It is to to resist feeling hopeless about men and writing men off, and to build on the many positives already in current forms of manhood. In other words, the best practice shows a commitment to enhancing boys’ and men’s lives.
To be gender-just is to be guided also by principles of equity and social justice. It is to be critical of those aspects of boys’ and men’s behaviour, constructions of masculinity, and gender relations which are harmful to girls and women. To be gender-just is to encourage men to develop respectful, trusting and egalitarian relations with women, and to promote positive, non-oppressive constructions of gender or selfhood.
Thirdly, any approach to boys’ and men’s issues must acknowledge both commonalities and diversities in the lives of boys and men. Manhood and gender are structured by class, race, sexuality, age and region. Boys and men share very unequally in the fruits of male privilege, and some forms of manhood are dominant while others are marginalised.
More generally, all of us have multiple and interlocking identities and social locations (Plantenga 2004: 41), some associated with privilege and unfair advantage and some associated with subordination and disadvantage. Acknowledging our and others’ roles in systems of domination and subordination should be central to this work.
Men and gender mainstreaming
Once we recognise that boys and men are unavoidably involved in gender, and that gender unavoidably involves boys and men, then the potential integration of males into policy and programming related to gender becomes a vast project.
Connell (2003), in a paper prepared for the Expert Group Meeting on ‘The Role of Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality’, provides a very useful overview of this project. He discusses how policy and programming addressing boys and men can be integrated into five major gender issues globalization and development; work/life balances; HIV/AIDS, sexuality and reproductive health; gender-based violence; and education.
A variety of key institutions have a role to play in fostering men’s contributions to gender equality.
Government and public policy
Recognise that all aspects of government policy and practice shape gender. The ‘mainstream’ is already gendered.
Governments shape gender relations in a wide variety of ways, through laws, policies, and interventions which are overtly about gender and those which are not (Connell 2003: 22). For example, government economic and welfare policies shape men’s roles as fathers and caregivers, through their impact on public and domestic divisions of labour and couples’ decision-making about work and parenting. Thus, one of the first steps in gender mainstreaming is to recognise that in fact the mainstream is already gendered, and to explore the many ways in which government policy and practice already encourages certain sorts of male gender identities and practices while inhibiting others. In other words, our ‘gender audits’ of government policies, budgets, and structures must include assessment of their impact on men and masculinities.
Include men in all policy and programming related to gender. Not through separate ‘men’s’ and ‘women’s’ policies, but through integrated policies on gender relations.
Another key step is to include material on men in all policy and programming related to gender. Policies on gender equality typically name women as their subject, while men are rarely named or discussed and are implicit as background (Connell 2003: 10). This can make it difficult to raise issues about men’s and boys’ interests, problems, or differences except by falling into a stance of backlash, without weakening the impetus for justice for women and girls. One solution is parallel policies, such as women’s and men’s policies on health or education, but this may weaken the rationale of ‘equality’ and may promote more gender segregation (Connell 2003: 10-11). Instead, we should develop integrated gender policies, focusing policy on the relations between groups (Connell 2003: 10, 28), as it is through gender relations that inequalities or equalities are constituted.
Foster gender equality within government organisations, including support from high-level men.
As large-scale employers, governments can take action to embody and model gender-just employment. Support from men in the top levels of government is crucial, both for gender equality measures and for the women involved in these processes (Connell 2003: 23).
Businesses, NGOs, and unions
Private sector businesses, trade unions, and other civil society organisations all have their own gender regimes which influence the social positions of women and men (Connell 2003: 24). Again, all can play a role in fostering gender equality both internally and in their influence on wider society. And again, the role of men who hold organisational power is vital in change (Connell 2003: 24).
Incorporate men and boys more systematically into gender equality policies and processes…
Connell (2003: 28-30) provides a useful framework for incorporating men and boys more systematically into gender equality policies and processes. We must engage men and boys in processes of personal and social change. We must present gender equality as a positive project for men, and support programs on, foster forums on, create policy and research positions concerned with, and circulate information about men’s roles in building gender equality.
In the remainder of this presentation, I focus on educational strategies for improving men’s awareness of and commitment to gender equality (and in particular, those forms of education that are face-to-face such as workshops, small group work, and peer education).
I begin with a couple of issues about engaging men in general, before focusing on what works and does not work in education work in particular.
Working with men: Strategies and examples of practice
First, there is the practical question of how we actually reach boys and men.
Reach boys and men: Go to them, or bring them to you.
There are two clusters of strategies for reaching boys and men: go to them, and bring them to you. There are a range of successful strategies for going to them. Focusing for example on young men, peer education programs train young men to reach their peers with information and referral. Education can be targeted at the workplaces in which young men are the majority. Social marketing campaigns, on condom use for example, have been used at the sporting and entertainment events which attract young men. Community outreach strategies aim to reach young men in clubs, video arcades, and other places where young and adult men congregate. Other efforts work through youth centres, Boy Scout Associations and sports associations (UNFPA 2000, pp. 139-162).
The other side of reaching boys and men is bringing them to you. For example, there have been efforts to make sexual and reproductive health services more attractive to men or ‘male-friendly’. Some family planning clinics have tried to attract men by having male-only nights, separate entrances and waiting areas, hiring more male clinic staff, offering free condoms, offering health services of particular relevance to men, and training staff to treat male clients with respect and sensitivity (Boyd and Moore, 1998).
Engage boys and men well;
Second, there is the issue of what kind of message we offer to boys and men.
(a) Begin with the positive.
There is widespread acknowledgement that what works best is to begin with the positive – to begin with what is working, with the fact that most men treat women and girls with respect, that most men do not use violence, and so on. Approaching men with a ‘deficit’ perspective, focused on the negative, is likely to prompt defensiveness (Lang 2002: 17; Ruxton 2004: 208). For example, when women in the Phillipines were developing the Gender Seminar for Men, they found that men rejected the language of “gender sensitivity training” because of its perceived negative connotations, and they opted instead for describing the process in terms of “sharing, dialogue, and learning” (Cruz 2002).
However, beginning with the positive does not mean condoning men’s endorsement of sexist or oppressive understandings and practices. Any work with men must retain a fundamental, feminist-informed concern with gender equality and a critique of those practices, understandings, and relations which sustain inequality.
(b)Speak to men’s experience.
Second, ground the language and content in men’s own experience and concerns. Ensure that your interventions are culturally appropriate (and I say more about this below).
(c) Highlight the shared benefits to women and men.
Third, emphasise the shared benefits for men and women and, in particular, the ways in which men will gain from gender equality.
There are two broad answers to the question, ‘Why should men change?’ First, men ought to change. Given the fact of men’s unjust privilege, there is an ethical obligation for men to act in support of the elimination of that privilege (Pease 2002: 167-168).
Second, it is in men’s interests to change. Men themselves will benefit from supporting feminism and advancing towards gender equality. There are four clusters of reasons why boys and men may support change towards gender equality and will benefit from it.
First, men and boys live in social relationships with women and girls – their wives and partners, sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts and nieces, friends and colleagues, neighbours, and so on (Connell 2003: 11).
The quality of every man's life depends to a large extent on the quality of those relationships. Living in a system of gender inequality which limits or damages the lives of the women and girls concerned, inevitably degrades the lives of the men and boys too. (Connell 2003: 11)
For example, some men support efforts towards gender equality because of their concerns about and hopes for their daughters.
Second, men’s own well-being is limited by narrow constructions of gender. “Men tend to pay heavy costs — in the form of shallow relationships, poor health, and early death — for conformity with the narrow definitions of masculinity that promise to bring them status and privilege.”
For example, social and economic pressures may push men into ‘breadwinner’ roles, constraining their work/life balance and their ability to be involved fathers (Connell 2003: 12).
Gender reform benefits the wellbeing of the communities in which men live. For example, men may recognise that they and their communities benefit from flexibility in divisions of labour which maximise labour resources, from improvements in women’s health and wellbeing, or from a diminishing of the civil and international violence associated with aggressive constructions of masculinity and patriarchal nation states (Connell 2003: 12).
Finally, boys and men may support gender equality because of their ethical, political, or spiritual commitments – their support for ideals of equality or liberation, their faith-based belief in ideals of compassion and justice, or their sympathy to progressive political values and movements.
(d)Minimise hostile and defensive reactions.
One of the most significant challenges in work with men is to minimise their reactions of defensiveness and hostility. For example, in educational work on violence against women, many men already feel defensive and blamed about the issue, and defensive reactions are common among men attending anti-violence workshops. It is useful to approach males as partners in solving the problem rather than as perpetrators of the problem (Berkowitz 2004a, p. 3). Other measures that can lessen men’s defensiveness include addressing men as bystanders to other men’s sexism or violence, creating safe and non-judgmental environments for open discussion and dialogue, using male facilitators, and acknowledging men’s own victimisation (Flood 2002-2003, p. 30).
Educating and changing men
Male-only versus mixed-sex participants?
In working to involve men in progress towards gender equality, there are good reasons to use all-male groups. First, men’s attitudes and behaviour are shaped in powerful ways by their male peers (Kimmel 1994, pp. 128-129), and this male-male influence can be harnessed for positive ends (Berkowitz 2004a, p. 4).
Second, all-male groups can provide the space and the safety for men to talk. Third, working in single-sex groups minimises the harmful, gendered forms of interaction that are common in mixed-sex groups. Men may look to women for approval, forgiveness or support and women may adopt nurturing or caretaking roles for men (Mohan and Schultz 2001).
However, all-male groups do involve greater risks of men’s collusion with sexism and violence, and this must be minimised.
There has been very little evaluation of the effects of single-sex versus mixed-sex groups in work on gender inequality. However, in the field of sexual assault prevention, evaluations demonstrate that separate-sex programs are more effective than mixed-sex programs, and female and male participants themselves prefer single-sex workshops (Berkowitz 2001, pp. 80-81; Berkowitz 2002, pp. 166-167; Earle 1996, p. 13; Foubert and McEwen 1998, p. 549).
At the same time, mixed-sex groups and processes also can prompt powerful change among men. For example, some educators use ‘fishbowl’ exercises in which men get to hear women’s experiences of a particular gender issue, and other processes aimed at facilitating gender reconciliation.
Use men to engage men. And both women and men as co-facilitators.
There are some good reasons to use men as facilitators and peer educators in gender-based work with men.
First, male educators tend to be perceived as more credible and more persuasive by male participants (Kilmartin 2001, pp. 51-52). In the context of negative stereotypes of feminists and feminism and cultural constructions of male authority, men may be listened to more and taken more seriously than women speaking about the same issues. While this is unfortunate, it can be harnessed for anti-patriarchal ends.
Second, male educators (and other participants) can act as role models for other men. Men can act as models of a gender-equitable masculinity, demonstrating anti-sexism and taking responsibility for their own sexist behaviour. Male facilitators possess an insider’s knowledge of the workings of masculinity and can use this to critical advantage.
Third, having men work with men embodies the recognition that men must take responsibility for helping to end gender inequality, rather than leaving it up to women.
Peer education may be a particularly valuable strategy for men, given the evidence that men’s attitudes and behaviour are shaped in powerful ways by their male peers. For example, my own research among young heterosexual men has documented the substantial influence of male-male relations on young men’s sexual and social relations with women (Flood 2003a).
To give some examples of peer education work with men, a 1998 project on reproductive health in the Philippines worked with a federation of tricycle drivers outside Manila. Male peer educators ran workshops among the drivers, and the drivers then disseminated health messages through their vehicles and at passenger terminals (Bacudo 2001: 33-34). In an action-research project in low-income settings in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, young men who questioned prevailing violence-supportive views were trained as peer educators to foster gender-equitable relations in their communities (Barker 2001).
Female educators, and men and women working together
Having emphasised the benefits of male educators, I should note also that female facilitators can also work very effectively with men, and there are benefits to women and men working together. Having mixed-sex educators involves and demonstrates a model of working in partnership. This is a valuable demonstration to participants of egalitarian working relationships across gender, and it models women’s and men’s shared interest in gender justice.
In any case, most violence prevention education is likely to continue to be done by women. Women already shoulder this work, and the pool of men with both feminist sympathies and educational skills is small indeed.
Create safe spaces for men to talk and learn.
The evidence is that programs with the greatest effectiveness are characterised by interactive participation in which men honestly share real feelings, concerns, and experiencese and engage in discussion and reflection (Berkowitz 2002, p. 169; Lang 2002: 17-18).
Creating space for men to talk and learn about gender includes giving men opportunities to learn about the influence of gender on their lives and relations and to understand themselves as gendered beings (Greig and Peacock 2005: s1.3).
Effective programs are (1) Comprehensive, (2) Intensive, (3) Relevant to the audience, and (4) Based on positive messages.
We know that well-designed education programs can produce lasting change for example in the attitudes, values and behaviours associated with violence against women (Flood 2004c). Effective violence prevention programs have four key features. Effective prevention programs are comprehensive, in that they address and involve all relevant community members and systems (Berkowitz 2001, p. 78). Effective programs are intensive, in that they offer learning opportunities that are interactive, involve active participation, are sustained over time and have multiple points of contact with reinforcing messages (Berkowitz 2004b, p. 1). Effective programs are relevant to the audience. They are tailored to the characteristics of the participants and acknowledge the special needs and concerns of particular communities. They focus on peer-related variables and use peers in leadership roles (Berkowitz 2001, p. 82). Finally, effective programs offer positive messages which build on men’s values and predisposition to act in a positive manner. They document and reinforce healthy behaviors and norms and encourage individuals to focus on what they can do, not on what they should not do (Berkowitz 2001, pp. 82-83).
Address cognitive, affective or emotional, and behavioural domains.
Programs will be most effective if they address three domains: cognitions, affective or emotional responses, and behaviour (Heppner et al. 1999, p. 18). Some programs engage participants only at the cognitive level. But programs that explore only what participants know are less effective than programs that also address how they feel and what they do.
Cognitive: Educators can address the cognitive domain through the provision of facts and information and the debunking of myths and stereotypes.
Emotional: To engage men emotionally however, it will be necessary for example to have men hear of the pain, suffering, or disadvantage women experience as a result of gender inequality. For example, some violence prevention programs rely on a panel of rape survivors speaking of the aftermath and long-term effects that rape has had on their lives, and on male allies speaking of supporting friends who had been raped, their emotional reactions to this and so on. Such exercises are designed to elicit empathy among the participants (Heppner et al. 1999, p. 18).
In the Gender Seminar for Men developed in the Phillipines, there was an emphasis on balancing cognitive awareness with affective commitment, based on the recognition that we have to touch personal lives and inspire personal engagement (Cruz 2002: 3).
Behavioural: Strategies for addressing the behavioural domain of gender inequality and equality include interactive role plays, in which the audience rewrites the scene to show gender equality, non-violence, and so on (Heppner et al. 1999, p. 21). Such an exercise facilitates behavioural change by modeling the specific behaviours men can adopt to practise respect, sexual consent, non-violent conflict resolution, and so on.
Make your interventions culturally appropriate – including sensitivity to gender cultures.
Effective education programs among men must also be ‘culturally appropriate’ and sensitive to cultural diversities.
This goes far beyond such measures as the use of culturally inclusive language, to the exploration of the ways in which women’s and men’s involvements in gender relations are organised by class, race and ethnicity, age and other forms of social division.
‘Cultural appropriateness’ conventionally is understood to refer to a sensitivity to ethnic diversity, but it should refer also to a sensitivity to gender cultures. Among men, there is enormous diversity in the constructions of masculinity and sexuality which are dominant in particular social contexts and communities. This diversity certainly is shaped by ethnic differences, but also by many other forms of social differentiation. One of the first steps in working with a particular group or community of men should be to map their gendered and sexual culture, in order to see what aspects of this culture contribute to gender inequality and what aspects can be mobilised in support of equality.
Address culturally specific supports for gender inequality. And draw on local resources and texts in promoting gender equality
As an extension of this, an important strategy is to address culturally specific supports for gender inequality. For example, some men in gender workshops in Fiji and Vanuatu defend gender inequality by claiming that male dominance is mandated by God and legitimated in the Bible. This Christian defence of male privilege can be undermined by finding other Christian accounts which reject such privilege. Drawing on materials produced by the US group Christians for Biblical Equality, including Biblical quotes and references, a colleague showed instead that God created man and woman equally, that a Christian marriage should be a partnership, and so on.
Other aspects of this work include placing ‘tradition’ in its social and historical context, showing that ‘tradition’ has varied over time and is shaped by many forces and factors, and inviting assessment of the positive and negative aspects of tradition (Greig and Peacock 1005: s2.3).
A second strategy is to look for and build on local resources, texts, and norms in promoting gender equality.
Greig and Peacock (2005: s1.4) suggest that we ‘work within and against the grain of culture’. In other words, be “strategic in terms of when and how to challenge traditional practices and strongly held cultural beliefs, and when to work with the ‘grain’ of culture”.
Match your intervention to men’s stage of change.
Making one’s intervention relevant also means matching it to men’s level of awareness about and willingness to take responsibility for problems of gender inequality. Men are at different places along the continuum from passive indifference to active intervention, and different educational approaches should be adopted for men at earlier and later stages of change (Berkowitz 2002, p. 177). In addition, because of gendered life experiences, men and women do not come to a gender perspective in identical ways. Men need much more convincing than women of the reality of women’s oppression because they have not experienced it directly, and men take longer to move from mental cognition of gender issues to emotional identification (Cruz 2002: 3-7).
This matching can be done in two ways. First, education programs can take men through different developmental stages over the course of the program. In the Gender Seminar for Men, participants are taken through six phases, beginning with exercises in which they hear of women’s pain, to games focused on giving them practice in articulating women’s issues (through a card game of ‘feminist poker’), to a ritual in which each man makes a commitment regarding what he can do to lessen the burden of oppression among one or two women in his life, ending with further reflection and planning for action (Cruz 2002: 4-7).
Second, different educational approaches can be used with men who are at different stages of awareness and commitment. Strategies such as empathy induction are suited to men with little recognition of the problem. Skills training begins to teach men to change their personal behaviour, and requires deeper changes in assumptions about gender. Bystander intervention and social norms approaches go further still, in fostering change in peer relations and masculine culture (Berkowitz 2002, pp. 177-178).
Foster men’s support for and commitment to gender equality.
Fostering men’s support for gender equality should be a theme running throughout our work with men, but I want to spend a little time on the particular educational strategies that can be used to do this. Some of the ways in which we can encourage a commitment to gender equality among men are to;
· Increase men’s awareness of women’s subordination, through exercises in which they document or gather data on patterns of gender in their local communities, analyse popular culture, and so on;
· Use scenarios of gender reversal or ‘walking in women’s shoes’ to encourage awareness and empathy (e.g. in which the participants wake up the next morning as a woman).
· Or have men listen directly to women’s experiences, e.g. through ‘Gender Fishbowl’ exercises.
· Use personal stories, anecdotes, and local examples to make gender inequalities both real and relevant.
· Personalise women’s suffering to encourage men’s empathy, drawing on men’s relationships with women in their lives (mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and so on). E.g., “How would you feel if that [violence] happened to your wife or sister?” (Greig and Peacock 2005: s1.4). While being mindful of the danger that this will encourage simply a feeling of paternalistic protection, or that men’s engagement with gender issues will be confined to specific relationships rather than generalised to gender relations (Greig and Peacock 2005: s2.2).
· Make comparisons with other forms of inequality or unjust power, e.g. to do with race, class, caste, etc. E.g., pointing out that the language, practices, and relations of colonialism (e.g. of forced dependence, exclusion from control of resources, etc.) also are evident in gender relations (Keating 2004: 53).
· Draw on culturally appropriate texts and stories in critiquing gender inequality, such as religious texts (Keating 2004: 57), local myths and fables, and so on.
· (On the other hand) Use the language of human rights, fairness, justice, and so on.
Be prepared for, and respond to, resistance.
I spoke earlier of the need to make efforts to minimize boys’ and men’s reactions of defensiveness and hostility. But we most also be prepared to respond to resistance. Resistance represents the defence of privilege, but also can express men’s fears and discomfort regarding change and uncertainty (Greig and Peacock 2005: s1.4).
I’ve already described some strategies which are relevant in overcoming men’s resistance to gender equality. But some further strategies are to;
· Acknowledge and work with men’s fears about gender equality. E.g., men’s fears about a future in which women dominate. By exploring models of ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over’, exploring the benefits of gender equality for men, and so on (Greig and Peacock 2005: s1.4).
· Acknowledge men’s own victimisation and perceived grievances (Flood 2002-2003).
Focus on the action men can take.
It is essential that our work with men explore the concrete actions that men can take to advance gender equality. Some of the obvious forms of action men may take up include;
· Making a commitment to specific changes in their families and personal relations;
· Telling other men and boys in their communities about their experiences with the program (and this is also a very valuable method of recruitment);
· Working as peer educators, whether on an informal basis or more substantially;
· Presenting the program to other organisations in their communities;
· Mentoring a young man;
· Conducting outreach for future workshops and other activities;
· Developing theatre pieces to be performed in the community;
· Effecting change within their faith-based organisations (Greig and Peacock 2005: 1.5).
Beyond this, it is valuable for us to;
· Create opportunities for men to mobilise their communities through events, networks, and campaigns (Greig and Peacock 2005: 1.5).
· Nurture men as gender activists (Greig and Peacock 2005: 1.6) (while ensuring that men do not take over women’s struggles and do remain accountable).
Assess the impact of your work.
For example, the Brazilian organisation Instituto Promundo works to create, and measure, changes in attitudes and behaviours among young men. They incorporate a scale of “Gender Equitable Attitudes in Men” in questionnaires to do pre- and post-test comparisons (from Lang 2002: 30).
In the remainder of this presentation, I very briefly explore the broader work we need to do to mobilise men in work towards gender equality.
Mobilise Men and Communities
Achieving progress towards gender equality requires that we go beyond working with men as isolated individuals (Greig and Peacock 2005: s.8) and work towards broader forms of social and political change in the communities in which they live.
Some of the key strategies we may use are as follows.
Use community workshops and events.
Work with influential groups. And ‘gatekeepers’.
Use cultural work: art and drama
Support men in getting organised
This work involves “not only educating men but also organising them for collective action” (Greig and Peacock 2005, s.9). In other words, we must organise and foster grassroots men’s groups and networks committed to advocacy for gender equality.
In the Asia-Pacific region, some of the most powerful examples of grassroots male support for gender equality are centred on the issue of violence against women. In the Philippines, the Kauswagan Community Social Centre held the Southeast Asian Regional Workshop on Men’s Role in Violence Against Women in 2001, and attracted participants from Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia. In Cambodia, the Cambodian Men’s Network is ‘an alliance of men from all walks of life, religions and ethnicities who are committed to the eradication of violence against women for a fairer and more just society’. The Cambodian Men’s Network has run the White Ribbon Campaign, an international campaign to encourage men to wear a white ribbon to show their support for stopping violence against women.
Addressing pervasive problems of gender inequality also requires institutional strength, networking, and collaboration. Key strategies here are to;
Build the network;
Strengthen civil society coalitions: A ‘big tent’ approach;
Collaborate with government;
Develop innovative civil society-government partnerships (Greig and Peacock 2005, s.10).
Building capacity to implement work towards gender equality
Finally, in order to enhance the quality, coverage, and sustainability of work with men, we must build its capacity, through training and competencies, programme planning, organisational development, and management support (Greig and Peacock 2005, s.11).
In terms of work with boys and men on gender equality, what is required most is the expansion of this work. The rationale for involving boys and men in work towards gender equality has been well articulated (Expert Group 2003; Flood 2004a, 2004b, 2004c). And key educational and organizational strategies are increasingly well documented (Family Violence Prevention Fund 2003, 2004; Instituto Promundo 2002; Greig and Peacock 2005). But what is needed above all is the widespread adoption of this work, and this requires funding, institutionalization, and policy and professional development.