In the last fifty years, there has been considerable progress to protect the rights of women and girls around the world in all their diversities. Today, many countries condemn and take steps to end violence against women and girls (VAWG), including intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual harassment. Research has also improved understanding and contributed evidence demonstrating that these kinds of violence, perpetrated by individual men and institutions, impact women’s overall health and physical, mental and economic well-being. Yet, studies show that one in three women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime (UN Women). Such prevalence is evidence of how societies have normalized violence against women and girls and gender-based violence (GBV).
Men’s use of violence against women and girls continues to be one of the most explicit manifestations of gender inequality. Working to change the behaviors and attitudes of men and boys is essential to achieving gender equality. Such work transforms cultural and institutional practices that perpetuate gender hierarchies, exclusions and discrimination.
There are growing indications that positive outcomes can come from engaging men and boys and transforming masculinities to protect women’s rights and advance gender justice. Yet such initiatives with men and boys are scarce, scattered and limited. Without a critical feminist analysis of gender power inequalities, programs with men and boys can actually be more harmful than helpful. Initiatives with men and boys that are neither feminist-informed nor gender transformative often reinforce patterns and systems of exclusion and oppression. (See ‘Accountability’ for more about this)
Challenging the systems that enable discrimination requires strengthening gender transformative work and long term investment in equal access to resources, opportunities and decision-making power.
MenEngage Alliance works through a movement building approach to address existing gaps. By convening members and partners, and engaging in partnerships with feminist and gender justice organizations and scholars, we foster, learn and disseminate evidence and promising practices to end gender violence and advance gender justice.
Elevating the quality and quantity of programs
Through MenEngage Alliance’s holistic intervention strategy we aim to boost both the quality and quantity of gender-based violence prevention programs and interventions involving men and boys.
Elevating quality entails strengthening accountable practices in the effort to transform patriarchal masculinities. It means ensuring that initiatives are feminist-informed, address patriarchal power and privilege, and challenge male supremacy at all levels. Partnering meaningfully and consulting with leaders from women’s rights, LGBTIQA rights and other relevant organizations in the design, delivery, and evaluation of projects and initiatives is also key to this quality-assurance.
Increasing quantity entails scaling up successful practices to reach wider audiences while respecting local contexts. Additionally, we strive for the institutionalization of promising practices through policy changes and legal actions.
Working in partnership with UN Women
MenEngage Alliance is collaborating with UN Women on a peer-to-peer learning project that seeks to fill the current gaps in documented practices and methods as well as evidence of what works to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) by working with men and boys and addressing masculinities.
We understand that practitioners, researchers and advocates working to prevent violence against women and girls by addressing masculinities will greatly benefit from a solid and organized knowledge base about gender transformative approaches. Furthermore, by harvesting knowledge and evidence on transforming patriarchal masculinities to prevent violence against women and girls, we will more effectively facilitate the use of tested approaches and stimulate new creative thinking about violence prevention.
With this peer-to-peer learning project we “collect practice-based knowledge and evidence, facilitate flow of information and strengthen knowledge development of practitioners on gender transformative approaches on working with men and boys in preventing violence against women and girls, and gender-based violence.”
MenEngage Alliance seeks to garner and strengthen understanding on the political, economic, social and technological forces and factors that confront the world today. In doing so, we aim to better understand the contexts in which the work on transforming patriarchal masculinities and engaging men and boys for gender and social justice takes place.
Through the MenEngage Learning Collaborative (the CoLab) we are creating spaces to collect evidence from members and partners on promising practices, and develop a “go-to” source of information about gender transformative approaches on working with men and boys in prevention of gender-based violence, women’s rights and gender justice.
Building the evidence base
While there is emerging evidence indicating positive effects of gender transformative work with men and boys, a strong evidence base is still lacking. There are many programs and projects among our members at grassroots levels, which are still not well documented and disseminated. There are still significant gaps in understanding, for example, in programming and action research with men and boys that goes beyond interpersonal issues, to tackle structural drivers.
This calls for combining existing knowledge with emerging evidence on promising practices in transforming discriminatory norms, intergenerational and human development research, programs and advocacy efforts on men and masculinities work. This links to the strategic thinking of MenEngage Alliance members and partners on the urgent need to harvest practice-based knowledge and evidence on transforming patriarchal masculinities to prevent violence against women and girls, to support the decolonization of knowledge and leadership, as well as challenge the existing knowledge hierarchy within the field.
Under this program, MenEngage Alliance aims to fill this gap by collating, synthesizing and presenting existing evidence to provide promising solutions to the strategic questions around gender transformative approaches to engaging men and boys.
MenEngage Alliance is using a consultative approach to:
- Identify promising practices among its membership in preventing gender-based violence and violence against women and girls;
- Convene experts in webinars and facilitated conversations;
- Bring together experts from the feminist violence against women and girls and the gender-based violence prevention field for cross-fertilization of ideas and critical input
- Document the process.
An advisory group of members working in gender-based violence prevention is also reviewing the process at key stages and making recommendations.
Member-led peer learning sessions
Members are hosting sessions as part of the MenEngage Alliance Learning Collaborative (CoLab) to share about their work with peers, members, partners and allies. These sessions allow for peer learning and sharing by creating space for members to share lessons and impacts/results of the work they are doing around men and masculinities, including (but not limited to) programs, campaigns, advocacy, partnerships and movement building to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, and gender based violence more broadly .
The materials and insights sourced through the CoLab will also form a rich resource base for analyzing lessons learned and distilling evidence on what works.
Recordings of the previous sessions can be seen here.