By Anne Kpason, Gender, Social Inclusion, and Community Engagement Advisor, Nigeria
Have you ever wondered why men and boys engage in sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)? According to a 2013 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report on engaging men and boys, men often have limited access to information that would improve their health and enable them to change their behaviour. It is interesting to note that men’s attitudes concerning gender constrain their own health as well as that of women. As such, working with men and boys represents an opportunity to address gender inequality and improve health outcomes. Additionally, global gender inequality influences sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes; therefore, addressing inequality requires the full participation and cooperation of men, who hold more power and influence over decision-making in the social domain and who can constrain women’s choices.
In a 2007 report from the World Health Organization, the WHO presented findings which suggest that well-designed programs with men and boys have evidence of leading to changes in behavior and attitudes. The report also revealed evidence of behavior change in all program areas (SRH and HIV prevention, treatment, care and support; fatherhood; GBV; maternal, newborn and child health; and gender socialization) and in all types of program interventions (group education; service-based; community outreach, mobilization and mass-media campaigns; and integrated programs). We should therefore seize and expand opportunities to work with men and boys to change gender norms and take on the underlying gender-related challenges, which will hopefully lead to elimination of sexual and gender-based violence globally