Engaging men and boys is a vital component of strategies aimed at promoting gender equality, not only to maximise results for women and girls, but also to overcome barriers and negative impacts felt by men and boys themselves via normalised gender roles and behaviours. This represents a shift from long held ideas that men and boys are generally doing well, or that they have it better than women and girls in all contexts. In terms of violence, health and HIV/AIDS, socialised expectations and inhibitions, and vulnerabilities and confusion as a result of cultures of silence, men and boys also suffer from gender-related issues, and as such they also stand to gain immensely from efforts toward attaining gender equality. In light of this, EngenderHealth, the Acquire Project, and Promundo have collaborated to create this Community Engagement Manual to support organisational staff in training participants to develop community-based activities to create a supportive environment for work related to male engagement in gender equality and HIV/AIDS.
The manual draws on the experiences of Promundo and EngenderHealth activities around the world, and is designed to be used with both men and women collaboratively. The manual is split into a number of sections, beginning with an introduction that provides a framework for addressing male engagement in HIV and AIDS. The framework in question is called the Ecological Model, and it emphasises the need to address systems and groups as a key component in changing individual behaviour and beliefs. The Ecological Model consists of different levels of action that are all required to create transformative change: strengthening individual knowledge and skills; creating supportive peer and family structures; educating health service providers; mobilising community members; changing organisational practices; and influencing policy legislation at the societal level.
Following this, the manual provides a range of community-based activities that can be used by organisations or individuals to create an enabling environment for male engagement. These can be split into three categories: introductory activities that help groups gain an understanding of male gender norms and their relation to HIV, AIDS, and Gender-based violence (GBV); engagement activities that help groups and communities in their struggle for gender equity; and activities to help form community action teams (CATs) to facilitate male engagement. Examples of activities include working with artists, media engagement and social marketing, talk shows, marches and rallies, sports, and door-to-door advocacy. For each activity, information is provided on the objectives, time and materials required, advance preparation needed, facilitators notes, implementation steps, handouts, resource sheets, and suggestions for trainers on how to conduct the activity. Also included are some sample training agendas to give trainers an idea on how to formulate a multi-day training agenda.