When Men Change: A Promundo Film
July 29, 2015
When Men Change tells the story of four men who changed the way they think about gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and violence. In recent years, there has been increased interest in exploring how men can contribute to promoting gender equality and preventing violence against women and girls. As the evidence base grows, now is the time to answer the question: “What works to engage men in achieving gender equality?”
This film, produced by Promundo, illustrates what interventions have proven to be effective when engaging men and boys in advancing gender equality and preventing gender-based violence, from the health sector to the workplace.
By engaging men in well-designed initiatives – including community campaigns, fatherhood training sessions, prenatal visits, comprehensive and inclusive sexuality education, and counseling – and changing social and cultural institutions that perpetuate harmful norms, we can transform the attitudes and behaviors that promote inequalities and lead to gender-based violence. The key is working to change the structures and influences around men and boys that drive the formation of inequitable norms and practices.
Looking for more? The following resources present evidence on “what works” to effectively engage men in achieving gender equality and ending gender-based violence.
- Challenge traditional gender norms: The most effective, gender-transformative programs include critical discussions of gender norms and masculinity with men and boys in the areas of: sexual and reproductive health; HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support; gender-based violence; men’s participation in maternal, newborn, and child health; and fatherhood. Read more here and here.
- End the cycle of violence: Witnessing or experiencing violence as a child is one of the strongest risk factors for men’s use of violence later in life. Programs that pay attention to how men and boys experience and witness violence as children – in homes and other settings – can help to break this cycle. There is a growing evidence base that well-designed interventions can lead to measurable changes in attitudes that support violence and self-reported use of violence. Read more here, here, and here.
- Combine multiple approaches: Integrated programs that combine group education with community outreach, mobilization, and mass-media campaigns are more effective in changing behavior than group education alone. Read more here.
- Advocate for policy change: Programmatic interventions should be paired with targeted advocacy to change laws and policies; to hold accountable those who implement laws and policies; and to change norms, particularly among staff in key institutions. In addition, holding men accountable for the violence they have carried out must be part of national strategies to end and prevent gender-based violence. Read more here, here, and here.
- Partner with key stakeholders and institutions: Empowering community leaders through trainings on gender equality and violence against women should be a key feature of programs, particularly as a means to create a positive force for change within communities, as well as at the local and national level. Working to embed changes within institutions such as schools and religious groups, from the initial program-planning phase onward, is crucial for designing effective messages and sustainable initiatives. Read more here and here.
- Redistribute care work by promoting policy changes, including paternity leave: A radical redistribution of care work is essential for achieving political, social, and economic equality for women, who are often burdened with the majority of caregiving responsibilities. Programs in parenting, health, and other sectors that engage both fathers and mothers can be effective in shifting traditional gender norms around care work. A bigger push for equal, non-transferrable, and paid parental leave, along with national policies that encourage men to be involved in reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child heath, are critical for instigating and sustaining that change. Read more here.
- Work with men in partnership with women: Gender roles are often complementary and are reinforced by both men and women. Programs around the world have found that women and men can be motivated to challenge harmful, gender-related attitudes and reconstruct shared values. By synchronizing work with diverse groups of men and women, boys and girls, programs can build momentum for social change. Read more here.