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Engaging men in gender equality: Positive strategies and approaches

  • Esplen, E.

There has been much resistance on the part of some women to involving men in gender and development work – driven by fears about the dilution of the feminist agenda, and by anxieties over the diversion of limited resources away from women’s empowerment initiatives and back into the hands of men. Yet not engaging with men and boys may limit the effectiveness of development interventions, and may actually intensify gender inequalities. Development interventions which aim to improve women’s employment and income generating opportunities, for example, are likely to compound women’s heavy work burdens unless efforts are made to encourage men to take greater responsibility for child care and domestic chores. Projects that focus solely on women may also reinforce existing gender stereotypes (women as carers, men as breadwinners, and so on). Involving men, by contrast, can generate a broader consensus on issues which have previously been marginalised as being of interest to women only – sexual and reproductive health, for example.  

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    Prepared for Irish Aid, BRIDGE (development - gender), Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex: http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/reports/BB15Masculinities.pdf