|© UNICEF video|
|Panellists at the UNICEF event, ‘Boys and Men: Partners for Gender Equality’, held at the UNICEF headquarters in New York.|
By Nina Martinek
NEW YORK, USA, 5 March 2010 – Research indicates that the societal definitions of masculinity and of men’s gender identities can be contributing factors to the persistence of gender inequalities worldwide.
The transition towards a gender-equal society, therefore, requires boys and men to think and act in new ways, and to challenge traditional images of manhood.
Promotion of gender equality
In response to this evidence, a side event at the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on 4 March 2010 – convened by UNFPA and UNICEF – focused on recognizing the need to involve boys and men in the promotion of gender equality.
This side event – ‘Boys and Men: Partners for Gender Equality’ – was planned as a thought-provoking way to generate more effective partnerships between those in the women’s movement and those who work with men to promote gender equality.
The panellists acknowledged that there are many programmes for male adolescents and men that promote equality, but that such programmes need to be extended to boys still in their early childhoods in order to achieve better results.
Christine Ricardo from Promundo, Brazil discussed the efforts being made regarding such educational initiatives: “We’re working with the education sectors in Brazil and in India to think about how – within the school setting – to integrate some of these strategies and activities for engaging young people, young men and young women.”
A positive step
Abundant empirical evidence has shown that through direct engagement about gender inequality issues, boys and men not only become more gender sensitive, but more willing to challenge patriarchal structures, masculine social norms and the imbalance of power within relationships.
The ‘Boys and Men: Partners for Gender Equality’ event was a positive step towards the active participation of males in the effort to make gender equality a reality.