The Rio de Janeiro MenEngage Declaration
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
What unites us is our outrage at the injustices that continue to plague the lives of women and girls, and the self-destructive demands we put on boys and men. But even more so, what brings us together is a powerful sense of hope, expectation, and the potential of men’s and boys’ capacity to change, to care, to cherish, to love passionately, and to work for social and gender justice. We know and affirm that men are capable of caring for their partners, themselves and their children.
We are outraged by the pandemic of violence women face at the hands of men, by the relegation of women to second class status, and the continued domination by specific groups of men of our economies, of our politics, of our social and cultural institutions. We know that among women and men there are those who fare even worse because of social class, religion, language, physical differences, ancestry and sexual orientation. We also know that many men are victims of violence at the hands of other men.
As we acknowledge the harm done to too many women and girls at the hands of men, we also recognize the costs to boys and men from the ways our societies have defined men’s power and raised boys to be men. Too many young men and boys are sacrificed in wars and conflicts for those men of political, economic, and religious power who demand conquest and domination at any cost. Many men cause terrible harm to themselves because they deny their own needs for physical and mental care or lack health and social services.
Too many men suffer because our male-dominated world is not only one of power men have over women, but of some groups of men over others. Too many men, like too many women, live in terrible poverty and degradation, and/or are forced to work in hazardous and inhumane conditions. Too many men carry deep scars of trying to live up to the impossible demands of manhood and find solace in risk-taking, violence, self-destruction or alcohol and drug use. Too many men are stigmatized and punished simply because they love, desire and have sex with other men.
In the face of these global realities, we affirm our commitment to end injustices for women and men, and boys and girls, and provide them with the means and opportunities to create a better world. We are here because we believe that men and women must work together in speaking out against discrimination and violence.
We also affirm that engaging men and boys to promote gender justice is possible and is already happening. NGOs, campaigns and increasingly governments are directly involving hundreds of thousands of men around the world. We hear men and boys joining women and girls in speaking out against violence, practicing safer sex, and supporting women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights. We see men involved in caregiving and nurturing others, including those men who assume the daily challenges of looking after babies and children.
We also affirm that the work with men and boys stems from and honours the pioneering work and ongoing leadership of the women’s movement. We stand in solidarity with the ongoing struggles for women’s empowerment and rights. By working in collaboration with women’s rights organizations, we aim to change individual men’s attitudes and practices, and transform the imbalance of power between men and women in relationships, families, communities, institutions and nations. Furthermore, we acknowledge the importance of the women’s movement for the possibilities offered to men to be more caring and just human beings.
For the past decade, the daily work of many of the 450 delegates to the First Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality has been to engage boys and men to question violent and inequitable versions of manhood. This work does not promote a spirit of collective guilt nor collective blame. Instead we invite men and boys to embrace healthier and non-violent models of manhood and to take responsibility to work alongside girls and women to achieve gender justice.
We also appeal to parents, teachers, community leaders, coaches, the media and businesses, along with governments, NGOs, religious institutions, and the United Nations, to mobilize the political will and economic resources required to increase the scale and impact of work with men and boys to promote gender justice.
The Evidence Base Exists
International and UN Commitments
These international commitments include:
To achieve transformative and sustainable social change around gender inequalities, we must go beyond scattered, short-term and small scale interventions and harness all efforts towards systemic, large-scale, and coordinated action. The time has come for us to fulfil these existing global commitments.
PART 2: SPECIFIC THEMES AND AREAS OF ACTION
Violence against Women
Violence against Children
Violence Among Men and Boys
Violence in Armed Conflict
Gender and the Global Political Economy
Men and Boys as Caregivers
Sexual and Gender Diversities and Sexual Rights
Men’s and Boys’ Gender Related Vulnerabilities and Health Needs
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
HIV and AIDS
Youth and the Education Sector
Recognition of Diversity
Strengthening the Evidence Base
PART 3: THE CALL TO ACTION
We call on governments, the UN, NGOs, individuals and the private sector to devote increased commitment and resources to engaging men and boys in questioning and overcoming inequitable and violent versions of masculinities and to recognize the positive role of men and boys – and their own personal stake – in overcoming gender injustices.
See paragraphs 4.11, 4.24, 4.25, 4.26, 4.27, 4.28, 4.29, 5.4, 7.8, 7.37, 7.41, 8.22, 11.16, 12.10, 12.13 and 12.14 of the Cairo Programme of Action, and paragraphs 47, 50, 52, and 62 of the outcome of the twenty-first special session of the General Assembly on Population and Development.
See paragraphs 7, 47 and 56 of the Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development, and paragraphs 15, 49, 56 and 80 of the outcome of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly on Further Initiatives for Social Development.