Redefining Masculinity

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Coaching Boys into Men Started in 2001, Coaching Boys into Men is a programme started by an organisation named Futures Without Violence that challenges  men, fathers, coaches and mentors to use the sporting environment to discourage violence against women. The CBIM Coaches Kit curriculum consists of a series of coach-to-athlete “teach-easy tactics and trainings” that illustrate ways to model respect and promote healthy relationships and choices among young men. The global toolkit and playbook is available in English, French and Spanish here

We are all highly influenced by the messages we get from the world around us regarding social order, relationships and our behaviour. Challenging gender-based violence requires challenging gender order as it relates to violence.  According to the World Health Organisation, “Male violence is a learned behaviour and men are socialised in much of the world to be violent. Men’s use of violence is in itself usually part of an affirmation of male norms and masculinities, in addition to being part of a power structure in which men with more power (e.g. older boys and men, men in dominant social classes) subjugate younger boys and men with violence”. 63 The socio-cultural construction of manhood or masculinity lies at the core of men's violence against women, as well as the basis of potential sources of prevention. There are numerous organisations around the world that focus on redefining masculinity – offering messages and programming that offer alternative options for what being a strong male in a community can look like. 

Working with Boys in Sport Environments

There are a few pivotal environments where boys get explicit and strong instruction about what it means to be a man. The playing field is one of those influential settings. In sport, athletes learn to be aggressive, competitive, physically strong, and dominant. None of these qualities are inherently negative, but when applied outside of the sporting environment, each can be a contributing characteristic to gender-based violence.

Because sport is a place where boys seek guidance about forming their masculine identities, it can be the perfect space to introduce alternative forms of masculinity and reconsider gender roles. Furthermore, boys often want to play sport. Coaches and leaders have their attention. Coupling socio-cultural and life skills lessons, such as teaching boys about GBV with games, can provide instant incentive to participate.


63 . World HealthOrganisation(n.d.). Why engage men in the fight to end violence against women and girls? Retrieved from