Particularly in today’s political climate, it is clear that we must include boys and men in the conversation about gender equality. SERniña wants to counteract the idea that gender issues are a “women’s problem.” To truly move forward, all people – regardless of gender – must work in collaboration, and we want to start now.
Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why it’s important to invest in boys:
Boys’ education can address these problems. Data from the United States found that after one year of workshops on redefining masculinity and male strength, boys and young men were significantly more likely to intervene in situations when a girl was being touched inappropriately by male peers, intervene when a peer was being harassed or threatened with physical violence, and to disagree with statements supporting pro-harassment beliefs. By educating boys and young men directly, we can work with them to fight the culture of violence and impunity. 1
2. Men who have completed secondary education are less likely to use violence against women, and more likely to be present during childbirth, involved in childcare, and hold more gender equitable attitudes. 2
Participants of the SERniña program have a zero percent school dropout rate, compared to the 54 percent dropout rate among students ages 11-13 in Sacatepequez, the state where SERniña launched. Creating programming for boys that incentivizes them to stay in school will not only impact their educational attainment, it will have positive impacts on their treatment of women.
3. Boys with positive male role models are more likely to question gender inequities and harmful stereotypes, and less likely to take part in risky sexual behaviours. 3
SERniño workshops will be run by local young men aged 19 to 30 who have come directly from the community where they are working, and who have been trained extensively in the SERniño philosophy. Meeting with facilitators over the course of a year will be an opportunity for boys and young men to build relationships with male mentors with whom they can identify, and who can act as positive role models.
4. Research shows that men who are positively engaged in the lives of their children or stepchildren are less likely to be depressed, to commit suicide, or to be violent. However, in machismo conceptions of masculinity, spending time in the home with family and children is often considered feminine. 4
Learning different conceptions of “manliness” so that being a good father is not viewed as feminine will ultimately make the boys and young men more likely to be good fathers and have rewarding, happy, healthy lives.
5. 80 percent of Guatemalan men surveyed by the United Nations agreed with the statement “women need permission to leave the house.” Significantly, 70 percent of Guatemalan women agreed as well. 5
This shows us that it is absolutely necessary to have partner workshops for both boys and girls in Guatemala, to empower girls and to teach boys about the value of working in partnership rather than from a place of power over women.
2. Because I am a Girl: So, what about boys?http://plancanada.ca/Downloads/BIAAG/GirlReport/BIAAG-Report-2011-prerelease.pdf