Man in Box

Man in Box

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

UN Commission on the Status of Women steps up work to engage men and boys

30 March 2015
Gender justice is not just a fight for women, by women: a clear message from the 59th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) which took place 9-20 March 2015 in New York.

Boys hold a sign saying 'teach your sons respect for women'. Photo credit: Tash McCarroll. UN Women Asia and the Pacific

Photo: Tash McCarroll / UN Women Asia and the Pacific (cc on flickr)

The event marked 20 years since the 1995 Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women and its landmark Platform for Action.

The role of men and boys was a hot topic at CSW59, with many side events on the topic full to bursting point, and a dedicated discussion in the main session.

Joni van de Sand, Global Co-coordinator and Advocacy Manager of the MenEngage alliance attended her fifth CSW this year and said she had seen a significant change in how work with men and boys was discussed. 'I think it is an example of the discourse around gender equality shifts over the years. If this is possible the other things are possible as well,' she said.

The focus on men and boys has become part of mainstream gender equality discourse, partly thanks to UN Women’s He For She campaign, backed by celebrity endorsements such as actress Emma Watson. Over 270,700 men around the world have signed up to 'take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.'

But, some feel that these type of campaigns can play into a patriarchal approach, for example seeing men as the protectors of women and challenging them to be a ‘real man’, or encouraging a one off signature of attending an event instead of long term transformative change.

'That kind of backfired a little bit because it was like, okay UN Women launch its first big campaign and it’s about men,' explained van de Sand. 'But at the same time, maybe that helped to open up the discussion.'

The momentum behind work with men and boys was also boosted by the International Conference on Masculinities: Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality, hosted by the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities in New York from 5-8 March.
While there is an increasing amount of gender equality work focused on engaging men and boys, including work with perpetrators of violence or encouraging men to take more active roles in care work, health or family life, the evidence base remains small.
To address this gap, a consortium of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Promundo-US and Sonke Gender Justice Network now collaborates in ‘Engendering Men: Evidence on Routes to Gender Equality’ (EMERGE), a two-year project to build an openly accessible basis of evidence, lessons and guidance for working with boys and men to promote gender equality.

During one CSW59 side event, Michael Flood, senior lecturer at the University of Wollongong (and Expert Advisory Group member of EMERGE) said that, from the research, the more effective interventions involving men and boys are gender transformative – they explicitly address and aim to transform ideals and practices associated with masculinity and gender.

Many organisations talking about their work with men and boys at CSW59 said that although they were cautious about taking on the work at first, they were asked to do it by the woman survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) they worked with, some of whom did not want to leave their partners – they just wanted the violence to stop.

Despite its popularity as a point of discussion, there is a real concern that funding for work with men and boys could distract money from work with women and girls, especially as it becomes more fashionable. There are also many ways of interpreting how this work should be done.

'As MenEngage we’ve been really vocal in saying this can never ever be seen as the next silver bullet,' explained van de Sand. 'Engaging men and boys is not an end in itself.'
This was emphasised in the alliance’s oral statement, presented by van de Sand to CSW59 on 17 March which called for a scaling up of projects and for work with men and boys to be ‘institutionalised’ in policies and programmes.

The statement also emphasised the importance of working with women’s organisations. 'We reject attempts to weaken our alliances or to put complementary approaches in competition with one another. We call on policy makers and donors to dramatically increase the resources available for all gender justice work.'

Building on success at CSW59, van de Sand thinks the next step for the movement to engage men and boys is to build more connections throughout the year and focus on advocacy and holding national governments to account: 'There are 680 member organisations of MenEngage around the world – there’s an incredible potential there for stepping up as activists.'

The EMERGE Men, Boys and Gender Equality website is building an openly accessible collection of evidence and lessons for working with boys and men. Find out more at the EMERGE website.

The newly published Evidence Summary, ‘Engendering Men A Collaborative Review of Evidence on Men and Boys in Social Change and Gender Equality’ is available to download online for free.


Friday, March 13, 2015

new source: document library of evidence and lessons in support of gender equality

The EMERGE (Engendering Men: Evidence on Routes to Change for Gender Equality) project has published an online document library which gathers evidence and lessons to provide a stronger basis for improving policy, learning and practice. This resource provides salient, relevant literature published in recent years, including studies that have documented impacts on lives and relationships. These examine changes in men’s lives, as well as changes in women’s lives, and changes in the relations between women and men. The studies are organised by nine priority themes, providing key insights on:
  • Political, social and economic processes that can bring about sustainable long-term attitudinal and behavioural change towards gender equality among boys and men;
  • The interplay between such change and formal or informal policies and institutions;
  • The various roles that boys and men (can) play in influencing or enabling interventions aimed at girls and women;
  • Development interventions and approaches that effectively support long-term attitudinal and behaviour change, facilitating men’s and boys’ support for gender equality.
EMERGE is a two year project undertaken by Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University in partnership with Promundo and Sonke Gender Justice. The project’s aim is to review and analyse the evidence available globally in order to enable learning on what works best and to support stronger leadership for working with boys and men to promote gender equality. The Evidence Summary is available online and highlights the key findings from the literature review.

A forthcoming output is the Evidence Report Engendering Men: A collaborative review of evidence on men and boys in social change and gender equality. 

Access the evidence here:

This post copied from Profem mailing from Michael Flood, 13 March 2015.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Announcing a new on-line magazine helping to build a movement... pursuit of gender equality and an end to relationships of dominance and abuse.  Out of the Box will provide convenient access to articles curated from many sources -- in an attractive format optimized for reading on 'smart' phones and tablets.

Take a look at

Please 'follow' Out of the Box and promote it to your network.


"Out of the Box" cover photo

Do you have a story to tell?

I'd like to hear your story about one or more of the following:

  •    Gender conformity enforcement – hazing, verbal or physical abuse, ritual group performances; 

  •     Struggle, recovery, change in the face of gender conformity enforcement; 

  •     Loving individual or collective support for you or others who have been wounded by gender conformity enforcement.

If this brings to mind anything in your personal experience as a child or as an adult, please be in touch. 

In addition to my interest in stories from the 'victim' standpoint I am also seeking stories from 'perpetrator' and 'bystander' standpoints.  All are important to the whole picture and our understanding of our gender world!  

In particular, if you have a memory of being an initiator/perpetrator of an incidence of gender conformity enforcement (many of us have) please consider sharing your story and present reflections on the effect it has had on you.
I am looking to gather ten to fifteen stories from which to build a performance script of pseudonymous characters telling their stories.

My own story is summarized in a piece I wrote called “Ending the ‘Ordinary’ Abuse of Young Men and Boys.”  You can read it here:

Send me a sketch… or just ask me how I can help get your story out.

Charles Knight   @outofthemanbox

To journalists and editors: Children Can't be Suicide Bombers!

My wife Susan recently posted this on her Facebook page:

"We need to stop calling children 'suicide bombers'. Suicide is a choice. 8, 10, 17 year olds with bombs strapped to their bodies are victims of the most horrific child abuse."

Agreed. A child simply does not have consenting agency in becoming a terrorist.  If they die with a bomb strapped to their body they are as much a murder victim as those who may die around them in a market or other public place.

In most all of these incidents we will never know what the child's experience was in the last hours of their life.  We can be quite sure they were powerfully manipulated or forced to carry the bomb as the agent of an adult(s) who are the ones responsible for the killings.  The child is neither responsible for the death of other victims or for ther own death -- as the word "suicide" implies.

Journalists and editors need to find another way of describing these incidents. I suggest wording such as this:

"Fifteen people died yesterday when terrorists set off a bomb in the central market.  A child of 7, who was also killed in the incident, was used by the terrorists to carry the bomb into the center of the market."

Not as crisp as "suicide bomber," but much closer to reality.  May I suggest that this is what journalists should be reporting.