Shifting power dynamics by engaging with men and boys
Instead of perceiving men solely as perpetrators of violence or gatekeepers, it is now widely acknowledged that work with men and boys is critical to combatting SGBV. Growing evidence shows the need for a multisectoral response to SGBV that recognizes the social constructions of masculinity, the vulnerabilities of men and the harmful gender stereotypes imposed upon men and boys. There is a great need for reinterpretations of mainstream thinking on the existing power structures that privilege men over women.
Therefore, effective campaigns for responding to SGBV need to respond to the power dynamics and norms that influence SGBV at the household and community levels. It is critical that we are aware of the diversity and intersectionality of identities across groups of men, women, non-binary individuals, youth and children. Responses to SGBV must employ gender analyses to understand the complicated and predominant gender attributes and characteristics that are enmeshed with issues of violence.
We need to strive for partnership between all genders. By engaging young men and boys in programs that promote gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors, there is greater possibility for long-term change. Such programs should challenge youth’s harmful notions about manhood and masculinity by involving them in program design and in ongoing communications and advocacy work. This can lead to healthier relationships and partnerships within homes and families.