Boys And Men

Women Win believes that well-designed sport programmes for boys/men or mixed groups have the potential to build more supportive/safe relationships. Sport is very appealing to young boys and men. However there is a need for the programmes to be well researched and planned and not just ‘tag ons.’

There is growing recognition among the international community that addressing gender inequities in health and promoting SRHR is not possible without efforts to directly engage men and boys as partners in these processes. This is most notable when we look at many global public health challenges, such as the growing rates of HIV infections and STIs –increasingly among women in many parts of the world – or the significant number of women who say that their first sexual experience was coerced. As such, working with young men has direct benefits for other men (young and old), women and children. This was clearly reflected within the ICPD Programme of Action78 and a number of international declarations thereafter.

As a result of these developments, there has been increasing programmatic efforts and interventions around the world (primarily through health services, workshops, and community advocacy/campaigns) seeking to engage men and boys in questioning social and cultural norms, addressing gender inequalities, and promoting better health outcomes and rights for themselves, other men and boys, women and children.

Useful Example – Educating Young Men
Instituto PROMUNDO is a leading organisation that involves young men in the issues of GBV and SRHR in Brazil and Latin America. Their innovative educational programme, pioneered by Latin American NGOs and now found in parts of Asia, attempts to create a safe space in which young men can question manhood. The Program H manual includes approximately 70 activities to conduct with groups of young men (ages 15 to 24) on gender, sexuality, reproductive health, fatherhood and care-giving, violence prevention, emotional health, drug use, and preventing and living with HIV and AIDS.

The manual is divided into five modules, each of which can be downloaded free.

Useful Example – Participatory Learning
Stepping Stones is an HIV prevention training programme that was first implemented in Uganda and recently replicated and tested in South Africa. The training uses participatory learning activities to cultivate healthier intimate relationships and behaviour change that ultimately will help improve sexual health and reduce HIV incidence. The 13-session curriculum covers topics such as relationship skills, communication, contraception, motivations for sexual behaviour, risk-taking and preparing for the future. Results show that the South Africa programme significantly reduced male-reported intimate partner violence and transactional sex. Lessons learned included the importance of matching the facilitator to participants by age and sex to encourage open and honest communication, and the need to allow sufficient time to train and support local staff and fieldworkers.

Well-designed programmes that engage men and boys can help change male socialization for the better. Brazil’s Instituto Promundo79, for example, reports a shift toward more equitable attitudes among young men participating in its courses. These men are more likely to use condoms, more likely to eschew violence in their relationships, and much less likely to report STIs compared with their peers. In South Africa the Men as Partners Network80 found that almost three quarters (71%) of men participating in workshops agreed that women have the same rights as men, while only one-quarter of the men in the control group did.

Useful Example – Coaching Boys into Men
The Parivartan programme aspires to reduce GBV by working with men and boys through India’s popular sport of cricket. The programme is based on Coaching Boys Into Men, an initiative of Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), and enlists cricket players, coaches and community mentors to serve as positive role models for school-age boys in more than 100 Mumbai schools. Through them, Parivartan aims to dispel the notion that “real men” are aggressive and violent.81