MenEngage Alliance launched a new campaign inviting people to share insights and experiences of talking with men and boys about issues related to women’s rights, gender, climate and social justice. The #HowToTalkWithMen campaign calls for tips, stories, and reflections of what approaches and messages are effective in opening up transformative discussions on gender equality, women’s rights, LGBTQI rights, masculinities, patriarchy, privilege, and addressing the roots of gender-based violence, among other topics.
The #HowHowTalkWithMen campaign started in November and December 2023. It drew upon the broad and diverse pool of knowledge and experience of those working with men and boys around the world for gender justice and to transform patriarchal masculinities.
The campaign provided a platform to elevate and exchange ideas and lessons learned in ‘calling men and boys in’ to journeys of reflection, change, commitment, and lifelong actions. Collectively, these transformative journeys have the potential to disrupt the foundations of gender inequalities—and to contribute to and complement broader social and structural transformation happening at different levels.
The #HowToTalkWithMen campaign took place in the run up to, and period after, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, which is a key moment of campaigning for women’s rights activists around the world. By pooling the resources and expertises of MenEngage members in the run-up to 16 Days of Activism, the #HowToTalkWithMen campaign supported those who are mobilizing men as allies and agents of change before, during, and after this period of action to end gender based violence.
The campaign asked how to ensure that these kinds of conversations with men and boys do not take place in isolation, but include the voices and experiences of women, girls and gender-non conforming people—and remain accountable to them.
Whether it is through workshops with men and boys, campaigns to shift norms around masculinities, or working with men in power, #HowToTalkWithMen invites stories of what messages, methods, and approaches sparked journeys of transformation.
Why a campaign on how to talk with men?
The #HowToTalkWithMen campaign was implemented at a time in which many boys and men are being exposed to harmful messaging around masculinities online, and disinformation around feminism and gender equality. Online influencers who appeal to stereotypical notions of masculinities based on aggression, dominance, violence, and controlling behavior are finding mass appeal—particularly among young men. Such trends have real-world consequences for women and gender queer communities, as well as men and boys themselves.
This is taking place against a backdrop of a global backlash against progress made for women’s rights, LGBTQI rights, and gender justice. In fact, some studies show that men and boys are feeling threatened by progress for women’s rights—despite the fact that gender equality has not been achieved in any country globally.
In the context of these trends, bringing men and boys in on the work for gender justice can be challenging, and is often met with resistance. Yet, people working with men and boys on these issues know that using the right tools and approaches can lead to authentic reflection, introspection, positive change, and commitment to gender justice among men and boys, and sustain such transformative processes. #HowToTalkWithMen is a campaign that aims to share the insights and stories of how this happens.
As stated in the MenEngage Alliance Core Principles, we believe all men and boys, in all their diversities, can critically understand, reject and overcome dominant, controlling, restrictive, and harmful definitions of manhood. There may be as many ways of doing this as there are men in the world. Yet, there are common tips, strategies, and insights into what can work. This campaign invites you to share, to pool knowledge, and elevate action on #HowToTalkWithMen towards gender justice.
Below you will find some inspiring examples of #HowToTalkWithMen about a range of gender justice topics, in the words of members and partners of MenEngage Alliance. This campaign prefaced the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, and continued afterwards, with the aim to call men in as allies for gender transformative justice. You can read these and other stories in full on Facebook, LinkedIn, X, and Instagram.
If you wish to adapt the campaign material for your own messaging, see the campaign toolkit for access to the graphic template.
Members across Africa spoke about the transformative change that they have seen among men and boys for gender justice, and what strategies they use to bring about this change.
Our members at CariMan shared about working with Caribbean feminist methodologies to engage men and boys, ensuring they remain firmly rooted in local knowledge.
We heard from members in Europe on what drives them to continue working with men and boys for gender transformative change.
From Latin America, we heard from members about how to create spaces that move men from feelings of guilt to take responsibility for the power that they have in a patriarchal society.
From North America, members shared their insights about how to create spaces for men to reflect on the ways patriarchal notions of masculinity have shaped their lives in a restrictive manner, and to recognize that gender issues are not only the concern of women.
From South Asia, members shared the importance of alternative models of masculinity for others to take inspiration from.