Boys and men play an important role in overcoming gender inequality and discrimination. Men and boys must be part of the solution to end violence and discrimination against women and girls.
Working with girls and women to challenge and reduce gender inequality is fundamental but boys and men must also confront unequal power relations and work as allies towards girls’ rights. Men still hold much of the power in society and therefore have the power to bring about change.
The Champions of Change for Gender Equality and Girls’ Rights programme, active in 41 countries, aims to advance gender equality through youth engagement. The programme aims to empower girls and engage boys to identify and challenge harmful, negative masculinities that perpetuate discrimination and inequality.
SOCIAL PRESSURE SHAPES BEHAVIOUR
Plan International conducted a multi-country survey across Latin America to identify the attitudes of boys towards gender issues in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. The survey showed that social pressure plays a decisive role in shaping their attitudes and behaviours.
For instance, 44% of participants in El Salvador agreed that being violent is part of a man’s nature. In Guatemala, 44% believed that taking care of children and household chores are the responsibility of women.
However considerable research has shown that when a society treats women and girls as equals, it has greater stability and prosperity. Gender equality can only be achieved when girls, boys, women and men work together towards a shared long-term goal.
GIRLS AND BOYS AS CHANGE-MAKERS
We work with children, youth, and communities to shift the agenda towards gender equality. The programme has developed separate but interrelated journeys of change for both boys and girls. The journey for girls focuses on self-esteem, rights awareness, collective power and economic empowerment.
The journey for boys includes learning how to avoid contributing to inequality and transform discriminatory attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate imbalances of power. They have the opportunity to learn how unfair expectations and negative masculinities also affect them, and learn how they can support girls' rights and gender equality.
As part of the Champions of Change programme, girls and boys come together to discuss their changing views on gender and social transformation and work together to find solutions for their communities.
CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE IS INNOVATIVE AND TRANSFORMATIVE
Champions of Change is building a long-term, sustainable social movement by actively involving young men in the gender equality conversation.
Engaging boys and young men in reframing healthy definitions of masculinity is critical to tackling homophobia and transphobia and achieving gender equality. Champions of Change helps equip young people with the knowledge and the skills to stand up for their LGBITQ+ peers and help build communities free from stigma, exclusion and violence.
The programme also supports increased intergenerational dialogue by engaging parents, caregivers and other influential community members to support adolescents in their journey of change by discussing issues such as gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender-based violence.
Unlocking the power of Uganda's girls
In Uganda, 40% of girls are married before the age of 18, and nearly a quarter become mothers between the ages of 15 and 19. However, a group of young activists are challenging the authority and expectations of those around them so girls may reach their potential.
Champions of Change: That's Me
This is the story of four adolescent boys who face the challenge of finding out who they are. Yelsin, 17, from Honduras; Kevin, 16, from Guatemala; Kendir, 17, from Dominican Republic and Elmer, 17, from El Salvador along with 145 other young men from Latin America took part in the 'Young Men for Gender Equality' programme between 2012 and 2014.
They carried out joint community actions to encourage over 3,000 boys and girls to challenge harmful gender norms and stereotypes, in order to demonstrate that young men can help to change the society we live in.