In the UK we are currently developing the pilot for a national campaign to engage and involve men and boys in gender equality called Great Men.
We believe that for equality to be achieved, we all have to be involved in the process of change, women and men together. Throughout our lives boys and girls, women and men experience gender inequality in different ways. Men are expected to play certain roles in the family, in social groups and in the workplace. Particularly during adolescence boys are expected to behave in stereotypical ‘masculine’ ways – to be strong, tough, even aggressive and not show their feelings. Some attempts to ‘prove’ manhood can have damaging effects on them, on their health and on the women they have relationships with.
Great Men is about giving young men the tools to challenge stereotypes that they feel pressurized to conform to, to be informed about relationships and to make their own personal choices about what masculinity means to them. It is based on the approach that:
‘There needs to be a shift in thinking from ‘men and boys as part of the problem’ to ‘men and boys as part of the solution’. Portraying young men as perpetrators, as people to be feared, does not help them to change. Threats and punishment have not worked. Young men need opportunities to experiment with different ways of behaving that affirm who they are, not what they feel they ought to be.’
Plan report 2012, So What About Boys?
Internationally governments and NGO’s are recognizing the huge benefits of working with men and boys to improve gender equality. After a successful pilot in the UK we will be working with local partners to adapt the model for international settings. Great Men is backed by celebrity sportsmen, musicians and actors spreading the message that gender inequality is unacceptable and must be challenged by men and women together.