Engaging Boys and Men in Gender Transformation: The Group Education Manual
For too long have men and boys been largely ignored in the development field, with too many assumptions that they are doing well, and that the have fewer needs than women and girls. While women and girls may lack more opportunities and resources, and suffer greater social discrimination overall, men and boys suffer too with rigid socialised masculinities placing enormous pressure on them, and creating barriers to reaching out for help to address health concerns. This socialisation of masculinity contributes to higher rates of suicide and violence, as well as alcohol and substance abuse. In order to help address this problem for the benefit of all, Promundo and EngenderHealth have created this training manual aimed at practitioners, facilitators, and anyone who works with men to question non-equitable views about masculinity, and to develop more positive attitudes toward male health and behaviours.
Applying a gender perspective to men and boys implies two major goals: gender equity, meaning fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between men and women, and gender specificity, which in this instance requires examining the specific needs of men and boys in terms of their health, and helping them to understand how the socialisation of rigid masculinities can negatively impact them. This manual attempts to incorporate both of these goals through the use of the Ecological Model framework, which emphasises the need to address systems and groups as a key component in changing individual action. The model consists of six different levels of action, from the individual scale up to national policy scale, and which together can bring about change. For each level, the model helps participants to determine what actions to take, who should take them, and how success should be assessed.
Following a guide to training male engagement facilitators and examples of sample agendas participants could create, the manual provides information on a large number of activities split into ten different themes: gender and power; sexuality, including rights, responsibilities, and sexual orientation; men and health; substance use, including the risks of alcohol and drug abuse and the link to HIV; healthy relationships, from respecting partners in terms of sexual conduct and refraining from the use of violence, to learning to express emotions; sexually transmitted diseases and HIV prevention, including the use of condoms and the need for HIV testing; living with HIV, and the positive approaches that can overcome stigma; fatherhood; violence, both in terms of men being victims and perpetrators, and how to reduce and overcome each; and finally making change and taking action, which explores men’s role in health promotion, the need for courage and accountability, ending violence, and making change at individual and community levels.