The Uncommon Man

December 22, 2008

Brazil, Chile, Rwanda and India: Proving What Works in Engaging Men

It is obvious that engaging men is vital to ending violence against women. But what works best to get them involved? What persuades them to change their attitudes? Will they change their actual behaviours? Providing answers to these questions would be invaluable to the growing number of anti-violence initiatives for men that are springing up around the world. A UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women project involving organizations in Brazil, Chile, Rwanda and India is setting out to do just that.

“There is an impressive body of experiences in working with men, but also uneven evidence on and some skepticism about what the impacts actually are,” says Christine Ricardo at Brazil-based Instituto Promundo, the project’s lead organization. “Our hope is to contribute to the global evidence base on what can be done by developing evaluation models to guide future programming and advocacy.”

In each country, project partners will carry out rigorous impact evaluation studies of group workshops and campaigns targeting men between the ages of 15 and 40 in low-income communities. The workshops will engage up to 3,000 participants; the campaigns are expected to reach an additional 20,000 men. Each intervention will be tailored to the individual country, and designed to explore issues such as traditional notions of masculinity, promote alternatives to violence, and encourage positive changes in attitudes and behaviours. One particular model that the project will draw on is Program H, a Promundo initiative to involve men in supporting gender equality that has been successfully rolled out in 20 countries in Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Through follow-up surveys that tap both men and their partners, immediately and over time, the project will scrutinize actual changes in attitudes and behaviors, and the factors that foster or hinder these. Project partners are aiming for increases in positive attitudes and behaviours among men, decreases in the self-reported use of violence and greater awareness of the importance of engaging men. Lessons learned will be disseminated through the MenEngage Alliance, a global network of more than 400 organizations.

Each of the participating countries has a demonstrated commitment to working to end violence against women. Brazil and India, in particular, exert the kind of regional influence that could encourage neighbouring countries to pick up on project results. Chile and Rwanda are expected to further develop existing capacities to work with men and conduct evaluations, with a particular emphasis on post-conflict needs in Rwanda.

Ricardo stresses that across the project, there will be attempts to differentiate what is universal, and what needs to be culturally specific. She adds, “the backing of the UN Trust Fund is very powerful in getting the results out and recognized. It has so much credibility, and offers so many possibilities for exchange and collaborative learning.”

Instituto Promundo, Brazil, received a grant in 2008 from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women for the 3-year project titled “Engaging Men to End Gender-Based Violence: A Multi-Country Intervention and Impact Evaluation Study,” which it is conducting in partnership with CulturaSalud/EME (Chile), the International Center for Research on Women (United States and India), Men’s Resources International (United States), the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre and Rwanda MenEngage Network (Rwanda), and Sahayog (India). For more information, please contact UN Trust Fund staff.

Posted by Aaron Buford at December 22, 2008 01:28 PM

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