How to successfully engage boys in gender equity

By Global Fund for Children | May 23, 2019 | The Americas | Education, Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment

Our Changing Gender Attitudes, Empowering Girls initiative aims to address deep gender disparities in Mexico and Central America. Here, we share some key learnings from the project.

This summary and the full report reflect the work of independent consultant GENDES (Género y Desarrollo A.C), a Mexican organization commissioned by GFC to develop and conduct an external evaluation for the initiative.

A young boy raises his hand during a lesson with Red + Positihiva de Quintana Roo.

Introduction

Over the last four years, the Changing Gender Attitudes, Empowering Girls initiative has aimed to deconstruct machismo and reduce gender-based violence through the work of six partner organizations in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. This project has been made possible in collaboration with Summit Foundation, with additional support from Hawk Rock Foundation and Girls Rights Project.

Our partners implement a range of programs relevant to their communities, but they share the following goals:

These programs take place in communities where children and youth face serious conditions of socioeconomic exclusion, and where gender-based violence is widespread.

GFC commissioned this evaluation to assess the relevance and effectiveness of our grantmaking process to support local organizations that are working on gender-based violence issues.

Main Findings

The independent evaluation found that the Changing Gender Attitudes, Empowering Girls initiative has been successful in promoting significant changes among its participants – particularly in altering young people’s ideas about what it means to be a man or a woman. Many have learned to question traditional gender roles and have taken steps to set more equitable social norms in their relationships.

At the individual level, many boys and men who took part in the initiative:

“I really like to help other young people in my community, because just as I started, there are many of us young people in the community that are not aware … of how harmful power relations can be and the consequences of gender violence. I have learned the value of respecting and being respected, and about human rights and sexual and reproductive rights. I could say that above all I have learned about things that are nowadays very rarely addressed as they are still considered taboo.” – Jorge, age 18, initiative participant from partner organization GOJoven Mexico

Many girls and women who participated in the initiative:

CIAM students participating in class.

Youth actively participating during a CIAM Cancun lesson.

“Before arriving at CIAM, I was a very closed person, with very unbalanced moods, and after meeting them, I decided to ask for help and now, thanks to them, I am a different person. I have my moods well balanced. I have more trust in my mom, to tell her things, not to hold on to what I feel or what I see.” – Amanda, age 18, initiative participant from partner organization CIAM Cancun

The evaluation highlighted additional impacts in the participant’s families and communities. Parents are more accepting of their children taking on less traditional gender roles. Meanwhile, teachers report a significant decrease in unplanned pregnancies, school violence, and sexual harassment.

Recommendations

Following are major recommendations formulated as a result of this evaluation:

Read the full evaluation report in English or in Spanish.

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