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Masculinities, conflict and peacebuilding: perspectives on men through a gender lens

Publisher: Saferworld 2014
Author: H. Wright

Research tells us that socially constructed gender norms which associate masculinity with power, violence and control can play a role in driving conflict and insecurity. Examining the reasons behind this, ‘Masculinities, conflict and peacebuilding’ aims to advance discussions about integrating a masculinities perspective into peacebuilding policy and practice. It examines existing INGO programmes that promote non-violent and gender equitable masculinities, and poses key questions about how these can be further developed to challenge the gender norms which drive conflict and insecurity.

To identify promising approaches which could be adapted for peacebuilding purposes, Saferworld conducted desk research on projects and programmes by 19 organisations or networks across five continents. This report is therefore not a comprehensive review of all projects which engage with men and boys to change attitudes towards masculinity, but instead presents a cross-section of those that dealt primarily with the issue of masculinities and violence. Literature reviewed included evaluation reports, other project documents, training and campaign materials, and academic papers.

Lessons learned from three programming models are summarised in the report: group education strategies, community outreach strategies, and integrated approaches which combine the two. The research found that both group education and community outreach strategies have shown evidence of changes in attitudes and behaviour among men and boys, but that strategies which combine the two approaches have been found to have the most impact. Most evaluations demonstrate short-term changes in attitudes and behaviours, and further research is needed to understand whether these changes are sustained in the long term.

The report makes recommendations to key actors, including:

  • examine gender perspectives during conflict analysis, looking at men and boys from a gender viewpoint
  • develop theories of change and pilot programming approaches that begin challenging masculine gender norms
  • mainstream a masculinities perspective in international security and development interventions, examining how activities are influencing masculinities
  • advance the women, peace and security agenda, as efforts to promote and realise women’s rights and efforts to break the links between gender norms and violence should be mutually reinforcing.