Violence against women and girls kills, and devastates families and communities worldwide. Yet making progress to reduce gender-based violence is possible, and increasingly it is being recognised that engaging men and boys in such efforts is crucial. This briefing note explains why and how CARE has made 2016 the year of engaging men and boys in efforts to stop Gender-Based Violence (GBV), what experiences they have had in pilot projects in the Balkans, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and why they think such an approach has merit.
The brief notes three key reasons for engaging men and boys in GBV prevention and reduction. Firstly, working with men alongside their female family members helps prevent a backlash from dominant male partners. Secondly, it is important to work directly with men and boys to transform masculine norms that are strongly influenced by violent conflict and notions of dominance. Finally, it is important to recognise that men and boys also suffer from rigid gender norms, and should be helped in their own right.
The brief examines the use of curriculum-based approaches to addressing GBV, noting that educating people while they are young is a much more effective and lasting avenue for change than dealing with problems after they have already been internalised in adulthood. Specific examples are discussed via case studies, namely CARE’s project in the Balkans which they then replicated in a three-year project in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The work – building and delivering curriculum modules on gender and GBV via workshops in school settings – showed promising results in inspiring boys to become allies for gender equality and GBV reduction.
The brief provides a number of recommendations drawn from CARE’s experience, split between the stakeholders to whom they are aimed:
- Donors and international institutions should balance strategies to address prevention of violence as well as responses to it, including tackling underlying social norms, attitudes and values.
- Funding for education programming should be based on more than simply attendance levels, and incorporate qualitative concerns regarding curricula and school environment.
- Additionally, funding should be found for programmes specifically aimed at men and boys for GBV reduction.
- Governments should ensure that time is guaranteed in schools for education on gender roles, healthy sexual relationships, positive gender attitudes, GBV prevention, and gender equality.
- Successful anti-GBV pilot programmes must be supported in scaling-up efforts, and beyond the curriculum, governments should look to bridge the gap between school and home-life to reinforce more equal gender norms.
- Academic institutions are urged to conduct longitudinal research into school-based approaches, to examine the degree of success of such interventions beyond school age.