Engaging boys and young men in gender equality

The issue

We know that while the women’s movement and the young women’s movement must continue to lead the movement for gender equality, we need to also engage boys and young men to achieve gender equality.

During adolescence and young adulthood, there is a critical period of opportunity to engage boys and young men in understanding why gender equality is good for everyone and recognizing their role in promoting the empowerment of girls and young women. By using and sharing their power and privilege, boys and young men have the ability to shift the dominant norms and ideas about gender and masculinity, and challenge the patriarchal beliefs, practices, institutions and structures that drive inequality between men and women.

Our solutions

In Cambodia, UN Women trained young male volunteers to give interactive presentations in high schools on ending violence against women and girls. Volunteers also participated in radio programmes to discuss the role of men in ending violence against women and girls, and organized a youth event to start a public discourse on the issue.

In Zimbabwe, UN Women’s HeForShe campaign has been branded as the Men to Men Campaign against Gender-Based Violence by its local implementing partner, SAYWHAT. Since its inception in November 2014, more than 150 young men have been trained as advocates and community leaders, Men to Men Campaign clubs have been established in 37 tertiary institutions across three districts, and more than 10,000 young men have been reached through various forms of media.

On 5 April 2015, the World Peace Centre Youth Mission and UN Global Youth Advocate organizers brought together more than 700 cyclists for a HeForShe bicycle rally in Pune, India. The concept behind the rally was simple: for our society to move forward, we need a balance of genders, just like one needs balance to ride a bicycle. Prior to the rally, a week-long signature drive was organized in Pune to raise awareness about the need for a gender-equal society, and commit people to sign up for the campaign and the event.

Speech: "Break the social norms and gender stereotypes that constrain the roles of men and boys"

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on why the engagement of men and boys – the other half of humanity – is a game-changer in shifting power relations to end discrimination against women and achieve gender equality. More