To bring lasting change in gender norms and inequalities, it’s not enough to work with only women. This is why we work with men – so they can join as allies and advocates for gender equality. In doing so, we help communities support women as they overcome social and economic barriers.
We must all work together to shift the unwritten rules that marginalize women. After years of working towards creating greater equality in communities, the women we serve told us we needed to go a step further. They asked us to educate the men in their communities about women’s rights. As a result, Women for Women International first piloted a men’s engagement program in Nigeria in 2002. Since then, we have worked with nearly 26,000 men across six countries to ensure that they will not be obstacles, but instead serve as support systems for women’s empowerment.
Our men’s engagement activities are tailored to the realities and needs of each country, but typically involve a “training the trainer” approach. This means that men are taught about gender equality and then taught how to lead discussion groups about women’s rights with other men in their communities. We place a particular focus on training leaders (including religious, traditional, military, and civil society leaders) to use their influence to help protect and promote women’s rights and gender equality. This creates a ripple effect of change.
Murhula from the Democratic Republic of Congo says his life is different now after the training.
“My life has really changed because before I didn't know the different forms of violence. But today I know about rape and violence. I now respect a woman. I didn't even know that a women can inherit. Today we know that inheritance is a right of every person - a woman as well as a man. We thought that certain jobs are just for men and not for women. But today I can say that the work a man can do, a woman also can do it. Personally I changed a lot.”