Male Involvement in Promoting Gender Equality
Author: Womens UN Report Network
Date: October 6, 2015
“Gender issues” are not the concern of women alone. Helping men understand
how gender equality benefits them can help them become key allies in creating a
more gender-equitable world.
Seventy percent of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty
are women and girls. Gender discrimination is a major cause of poverty and, in
many countries, women still have great difficulties securing basic education,
finding employment and having fair control over household income. Until gender
discrimination is ended, these issues cannot be successfully addressed. The
patterns of domination, though, may be so deeply embedded in cultures and
institutions that we may not even recognize them: boys getting more food than
girls; streets where women walk only under threat; the interruption of women’s
speech in conversation. Awareness, analysis and visibility are key starting
points in the task of understanding gender roles and their impact on conflict
displaced women and girls.
“Sixty years have passed since the founders of the United Nations
Displaced populations, often unaffected by national policies and priorities,
may remain marginalized by national government efforts to mainstream gender.
Service providers to these populations may have little awareness of gender
issues. They may be reluctant to interfere with local cultural practices and
unaware of how resources and power are monopolized by male members of the
community and the impact this has on women and girls.
The achievement of gender equality is not possible without the active
involvement and support of men. Men must be reached and included so that
interventions for women and girls are not derailed by male resistance.
Too often sidelined as a women’s issue, gender equality stagnates as a
peripheral issue with considerable lip service but little tangible movement. We
still fail to understand men’s roles and responsibilities in working toward a
gender-equitable world. We fail to grasp their reluctance to become involved. We
fail to analyze how conventional perceptions of masculinity limit and inhibit
male participation. Additionally, we fail to articulate the negative effects on
men of perpetuating a gender unequal world and the potential positive
ramifications—for men—of gender equality.
In order to involve men and boys, we need to stress that promoting gender
equality is not about granting privileges to women while disempowering men. It
is about creating integrated approaches that benefit all. It is about creating a
more socially just world.
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