Global Resources

Transforming Masculinity: An innovative African YMCA S2C programme

Publisher: Africa Alliance of YMCAs
Publication Date: Jan 2011

This report presents the development of Africa Alliance of YMCA’s innovative ‘Transformative Masculinity in Zimbabwe’ programme, based on the Subject to Citizen (S2C) model which enables youths to transform themselves into citizens who play an active role in communities toward enacting positive change. The programme was developed through a consultative process from 2009-2011, involving a baseline survey, participatory action research, qualitative research, continual desktop research, and a programme development workshop. In outlining the development of the project, the Africa Alliance of YMCAs hope to inspire others to create similar projects to help transform negative masculinities in Southern Africa, and beyond.

The baseline survey found that a prevalence of a ‘subjugated masculinity’, under which young men are socialised to indignify others in order to gain significance and social relevance. Rape, crime and banditism are obvious outcomes, and in the case of Zimbabwe, defilement and child rape are on the increase with an estimated 110 women raped daily, the majority of which are girls. Sadly, this distorted masculinity is hegemonic in its application of dominance and power, leading to this programme seeking to tackle the root causes of these symptoms by re-ordering youth masculinity in the following areas and ways:

  • Structures, norms and cultures that create hegemonic masculinity, by targeting individual youth and using various models of mentoring, including peer mentoring.

  • Male notions of social power, by promoting mutual dependence between young men and women.

  • The social structures that distort masculinity, by engaging with family, community/ethnic networks and religious institutions.

  • Youth culture and norms that perpetuate distorted male dominance, by using popular culture and youth mediums.

This brief outlines the concepts defining these efforts, including the ways in which gender roles are constructed through culture, the reality of youth experience and how this influences behaviour, sexual realities versus constructed male masculinities, the dynamics of gender-based violence, the influence of economic factors and media portrayals, and how these factors have manifested in the study sites of Kadoma and Bulawayo.

Next, the various elements of the planned programme are described, including the use of mentoring, workshops, a partner database directory, an information library, community forums, and the various context specific needs and foci of each site. Also briefly discussed are the Celebrate Life Programme, which will target younger age groups through the use drama, music, and art, and the Men and Women Communicating for Justice Project. Finally, the brief introduces and profiles S2C ambassador Josh Meck, an afro-jazz musician who uses music and rap to inspire and enact positive change, and closes with lyrics from a song by Mike Chibbz of Harare YMCA entitled ‘My Dream for Africa.