Transforming Gender Norms

Transforming Gender Norms

By MenEngage Alliance

On September 25, 2015, governments around the world adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Major goals included:

  • Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  • Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and everyday citizens. The MenEngage Alliance recommends a gendertransformative framework on women’s economic empowerment, gender equality and sustainable development that includes transforming masculinities and engaging men and boys:

  • Scale up and institutionalize evidence-based gendertransformative interventions with men and boys. Such interventions can challenge the social and cultural norms that define the division of labor between men and women and act as a barrier to women’s economic empowerment. Interventions should examine stereotypical ideas of masculinities and encourage men to take on more caregiving roles. Governments should provide training to health, education and social assistance professionals on the importance of engaging men and boys in care work at home so as to support economic participation of women outside the home.
  • Develop and implement policies to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work. Parental leave should be enshrined and enforced as national law. It should be equal for men and women, nontransferable and paid according to each parent’s salary. It should be offered to all caregivers, including same-sex, opposite-sex, adoptive and single partners. Parental leave should be combined with other policies, on the part of both government and employers, to ensure equity in caregiving such as subsidized high-quality childcare, flexible working arrangements, adequate sick leave and social protection policies.
  • Engage men and boys in women’s economic empowerment programs. When men are involved as allies, partners and secondary beneficiaries in women’s economic empowerment programs, positive impact of these initiatives in women’s lives can increase. They can better understand and support women’s economic activity, and can see the benefits for themselves and the household as a whole as they are relieved of the pressure to be the sole breadwinner.
  • Scale up gender-transformative initiatives to engage men and boys in gender-based violence prevention. Such initiatives challenge the underlying social norms around harmful masculinity that are at the root of gender-based violence and promote positive, nonviolent forms of masculinities. Strategies for the prevention of gender-based violence should include national-level public education and awareness-raising efforts, bystander intervention approaches, universal education on gender equality, mass media campaigns, secondary prevention approaches targeting men who have experienced violence and programs that target gender-based violence perpetrators.
  • Engage men as supportive partners, allies and targets in respecting, protecting and fulfilling sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, particularly in improving access to sexual and reproductive health services, information and education. Comprehensive sexuality education is fundamental in addressing root causes in gender inequality, by addressing gender norms and stereotypes, and by providing complete and human rights–based information about sexuality and sexual diversity. A meta-evaluation by the World Health Organization (2007) shows that sexual and reproductive health programs that engage men and boys have a positive effect on the well-being of girls, women, boys and men.
  • Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, and gender equality. This includes challenging harmful stereotypes about men’s and women’s role in society, by adapting school curricula to promote healthy notions of masculinity and femininity, the economic participation of women and girls, and the participation of men and boys in caregiving and domestic work.
  • Develop public information campaigns on the need to redistribute unpaid care work. Such campaigns can help challenge gender stereotypes around caregiving by raising awareness of the benefits of redistributing care work and providing positive male role models.