Boys and men play a crucial role in overcoming gender inequality and discrimination. Currently, men hold many of the key roles of power in the household, the classroom, the workplace and other public spaces.
To achieve gender equality and allow girls to meaningfully participate and lead in society, it is essential to challenge these existing power dynamics. Therefore, it is important to empower boys and men to be actively involved and committed to redistributing power in their personal lives and public spheres.
Join the movementOur Champions of Change on Gender Equality and Girls’ Rights programme has been developed as part of the Because I am a Girl movement. The programme builds the capacity of boys as peer educators by developing a real understanding of the impact of their cultural, social and religious contexts.
SOCIAL PRESSURE SHAPES BEHAVIOUR
We conducted a multi-country survey to identify the attitudes of boys relating to gender issues in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. The survey showed that social pressure plays a decisive role in shaping the attitudes and behaviours of boys. 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.
I have learned to value girls and women and respect them as human beings
Considerable research shows 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.
We work with children and communities on the Champions of Change initiative to shift the agenda from boys and men as sources of gender inequality to boys and men playing a key role in the solution. It transforms discriminatory behaviours by building young men’s solidarity, respect, and empathy towards girls, women and other men.
Yelsin, a 17-year-old peer educator from Honduras explains how his perceptions of gender have changed: “I have learned to value girls and women and respect them as human beings. I can identify the costs and privileges of existing power dynamics and especially recognise my own masculinity.”
Champions of Change is building a long-term, sustainable social movement through the active involvement of young men in gender equality processes. This model is innovative in working explicitly with adolescent boys using a peer-to-peer approach. Meaningfully engaging boys and young men in reframing healthy definitions of masculinity is critical in promoting the rights of girls and young women. It will mean that girls are able to meaningfully participate in the key decisions that affect them and is therefore key to ensuring that gender equality is achieved.