Tag Archives: GBV Prevention

  “Engaging men in gender awareness training, New Delhi”. Photo by World Vision Ireland

Learning Brief 6 – Masculinities and GBV

Gender Based Violence is a global phenomenon. Many countries have a high level of acceptance of violence against women and girls. One of the main factors reinforcing the prevalence of GBV is patriarchy, which gives men power over women. Therefore it is of critical importance that men and boys are engaged to end the cycle of GBV. In January 2011 we held a Gender Based Violence Learning Day. This Learning Brief contains information shared in relation to engaging men and boys to address GBV.

Why does it mean, to be ‘a man’?

There is no ‘Universal Man’. Masculinities and behaviours differ across countries, cultures and contexts. Gender is associated with power, and being a man confers power and often a higher status in society or better income. Power can also mean that one gender assumes a lesser role than the other. Masculinity can mean behaving in a particular way because of assumptions as to how ‘real men’ act, and a rejection of alternative masculinities (eg homosexuality). Not all masculinities are equal, and men with lower incomes often see themselves as having less power. Different social, economic and cultural interpretations of masculinity and rigid gender norms that link masculinity with power over women continue to be a significant factor in leading men to engage in gender based violence.

What factors did IMAGES identify as contributing to GBV?

The International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) was conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and Instituto Promundo, and distributed internationally in 2010 to more than 8,000 men and 3,500 women aged between 18-59. In relation to GBV, it identified a number of contributory factors:

  • Childhood Experience of Violence: The link between witnessing and experiencing violence and using it with partners is significant. IMAGES found that the incidence of men who perpetrated Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) was 19-32% higher among those who had witnessed their father beat their mother in childhood.
  • Economic and Work Stress: The role of men as providers is a universal norm and work is core to an understanding of Unemployment, low income or lack of status in the workplace can fuel low self-esteem and a sense of failure as a provider. Feelings of inadequacy can lead men and boys to turn to substance abuse, migration, depression and dangerous sexual behaviours. GBV can become a demonstration or reassertion of male power in order to re-establish status.
  • Masculinities and Conflict: When societies are in conflict, women become far more vulnerable to GBV. Armed groups prey on men and boys to get involved in violence, especially those unable to fulfill their socially prescribed role of When conflict is over, men can find it difficult to unlearn these violent behaviours.
  • Attitudes to Gender Equality: This hugely affects the acceptability of GBV. IMAGES found that men with higher educational attainment and married men had more equitable attitudes, and unmarried men the least. To achieve equality, the gender norms that both men and women learn and internalise must change.
  • Alcohol abuse: IMAGES found that men’s alcohol abuse is much higher than that of women. Men with more gender inequitable attitudes are more likely to abuse alcohol. Alcohol is a significant factor contributing to increased levels of GBV.

What lessons can we learn from anti-GBV practitioners?

  • Women have not achieved equality in any country. It is vital not to lose sight of women’s inequality, even in programmes designed to engage men and boys.
  • Focus on human rights as an entry point to discussing GBV. One-third of women experience physical violence from a partner during their lifetime. This suggests that though the vast majority of men are not violent, the majority are silent.
  • Engage with men on the basis of their own relationships with women.
  • Work with men to help them develop alternative male identities.
  • Engage with men about their emotional response towards GBV.
  • Include men in the development of programmes and approaches.
  • Promote education: educated men are more likely to have gender equitable attitudes. Girls with secondary education are less vulnerable to sexual violence.
  • Work with a community to create sanctions for perpetrators of GBV.
  • Forge links between local programmes and policy level.

Gender roles that limit women are being constantly reinforced. It is vital to engage men in a positive way in order to change this.

GBV is a complex issue. Programmes to combat it must move beyond simplistic images of men beating women and into a more nuanced, supported arena.

Download full learning brief

  “Children studying at Baptist Primary School , Rowalla, Tonkolli” Photo by Concern Worldwide

Learning Brief 5 – Addressing School Related GBV

School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV) refers to violence inflicted on children in, around, or on their way to or from school, due to stereotypes based on their sex or gendered identity. It is a fundamental violation of human rights, particularly those of women and children. It is considerable barrier to participation in education, gender equity and to the achievement of Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals (see Learning Brief 5). Although various international programmes incorporate prevention and response strategies, more work must be done on best practice and to ensure that all SRGBV initiatives have a solid theoretical grounding. This Learning Brief is based on research shared at a SRGBV Learning Day in 2012. It is to be read in connection with Learning Brief 2: Effective Responses for Gender Based Violence: Gender Based Violence in Schools.

What is School Related Gender Based Violence?

Millions of children around the world experience fear or violence every time they go to school. This includes verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or symbolic violence and includes both bullying and cyber-bullying. SRGBV can include individual actions as well as harmful traditional practices or expectations based on gender that negatively impact children’s rights to education. It can occur between students, between students and teachers, between teachers, and within the family or community. Preventing and responding to SRGBV is critical to ensuring access to quality education for all and to the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

What role do schools have in the development of gender norms?

Boys and girls often learn that they are different from one another at school. These gender roles control who gets to speak, where they play, how their physical space is shared, or who cleans the classroom, etc. Classrooms are often gendered spaces, with boys and girls separated. This constant stereotyping allows environments to develop where more acute SRGBV can occur and be tolerated. However, such attitudes are learned behaviour, which means they can be changed. The role of education is crucial here, as schools are not just sources of socialisation but can also promote tolerance, non-violence, and gender equality, and be agents for changing social norms. A number of promising international interventions and programmes have shown that schools can change to become safer places.

What key learning points emerged?

  1. Broader views are better: Organisations that demonstrate promising practice believe that because gender is a socially constructed concept, change is possible.
  2. Success requires partnership: A broad range of state and civil organisations, stakeholders and the community must be involved.
  3. Monitoring & Evaluation: Comprehensive M&E and local capacity building is essential to improve SRGBV measuring. Best practice includes multiple data sources.
  4. Micro, meso, macro: Approaches that address individual, school, community and legislative levels maximise impact and sustainability.
  5. Advocacy and Communications. Plan International’s report A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear: Working to End Gender-Based Violence at School (http://plancanada.ca/publications) is valuable reference for advocacy initiatives. Raising public awareness is important, though it must be handled sensitively, as children who speak out can be vulnerable unless support structures are in place.
  6. Staff training and commitment. Agency staff and partner organisations must have relevant training. It should highlight key areas such as reporting procedures; and how to equip school staff with tools to help prevent, and respond to, SRGBV. Having ‘champions’ who can speak out and raise issues in schools is important.
  7. Participation, Voice and Representation. Girls and boys must be recognised within the school structures as key participants in any intervention. Establishing student clubs or committees has been successful, as have child-led media, lobbying and awareness raising activities, as well as training peer-to-peer child educators.
  8. Get the resources right. School spaces, especially toilet areas, need to be safe. Reporting mechanisms and staff codes of conduct must be established and respected. A child should never end up in a situation where there is only one designated person to report to, as that person may be the abuser. Examine the curriculum for gender norming and attitudes.
  9. Men and boys are part of the solution. Boys are also negatively affected by gender expectations, and vulnerable to violence. Interventions should change attitudes and behaviours that increase the risk of men and boys perpetuating SRGBV, and create partners in combating violence against girls and young women.

There are nine key learning points of huge benefit to organisations in the appropriate and successful planning, design and implementation of their SRGBV programmes.

Good practice is based on a solid theoretical grounding of gender and GBV. Though a lot of research has been done, more is required before we can arrive at the definitive framework for best practice.

Download full learning brief

  “Men Care group participant, New Delhi” Photo by World Vision Ireland

Learning Brief 3 – Engaging men to end GBV

Many countries have a high level of acceptance of violence against women and girls. Those experiencing it have little or no support or services available to them. To discuss this, in June 2009 we held an event called Gender Based Violence Learning Day: Effective Responses to GBV. This Learning Brief covers an issue raised at that event: how can we engage men to end GBV? Although women are significantly more likely to experience it, working with men as partners is critical. Continue reading