Yaungson Yakani Francis poses in class after standing up to answer a question in his men's engagement training.

Men's Engagement

If we want to help women break through social and economic barriers, we must work with men to challenge discrimination and become allies in the fight for gender equality.

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Men's Engagement Programme

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Working with men to achieve gender equality

Men, boys, women and girls need to work together to shift the unwritten rules that discriminate against women and restrict their freedoms.

Gender inequality is rooted in the widely held belief that men are superior to women, and that men are entitled to be in control of women in their personal lives, their communities and in society as a whole. Women for Women International first piloted a men’s engagement programme in Nigeria, in 2002. Since then, we have worked with almost 21,000 men across six countries to support women’s rights. We place a particular focus on training leaders in communities (including religious, traditional, military and civil society leaders) so that they can use their influence to help protect and promote women’s rights and gender equality.

How it works

Our men’s engagement activities vary between countries, but typically involve a trainer of trainer approach. This means that men are trained on the content and then taught how to lead discussion groups about women’s rights with men in their communities. This multiplies the reach of the initial training.

Men's engagement in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan we engage influential male community and religious leaders through a three-month direct training programme with classes every fortnight. The men discuss topics including women’s property rights, violence against women, forced and early marriage, as well as women’s right to education, work and political participation.

What is the impact of engaging men?

We have seen how engaging with men can build their capacity to understand the negative consequences of inequality for not just women, but for the entire community.

Photo: Charles Atiki Lomodong

Positive attitudes

In communities where men’s engagement activities are delivered, the women we work with have higher class attendance rates and increased value as decision makers within the family. In Afghanistan, 99% of sampled 2016 male graduates reported positive attitudes regarding women’s role in family decision-making compared to only 24% at enrolment.

Because of the changes they see, women are requesting more and more male relatives enrol in our men’s engagement activities.

Photo: Charles Atiki Lomodong

Opening dialogues

Through the programme, men are able to take responsibility for change and we see promising results in male graduates. Across our men’s engagement activities in Afghanistan, Eastern DRC and Nigeria, men were 80% more active in supporting women's rights at graduation compared to enrolment.

More men have also reported developing dialogues in communities that bring men and women together to make decisions and create joint solutions.