We strongly believe that in order to achieve equality for women, men need to be part of the solution.
And, with gender-role awareness beginning during pre-adolescence and solidifying during early adolescence, there is always a need for working with boys in PJL’s partner schools to transform gender-related attitudes. In trying to provide gender-responsive programming, we must ask ourselves: How can we create new ideas about gender and masculinity among our youth, and help them foster healthier ways to relate to one another?
In partnership with ECPAT France à Madagascar, which fights against gender-based violence and the sexual exploitation of children, PJL developed a special boys’ program on gender equity and violence prevention.
The 20 sub-themes of the program includes such topics as “New types of courage”, “Healthy expression of emotions”, “Taking joint responsibility for teenage pregnancy”, and “Sexual thoughts vs. sexual acts”, among many others.
We piloted the program this past summer vacation in two of our rural schools. Four of our most experienced male Youth Educators worked in pairs and led two boys’ clubs over five weeks in August and September. Most of the participants were between 15-17 years old, and the majority of them had already dropped out of school.
The boys spent the first half of each session doing participatory activities, debates, role plays, and games related to that day’s sub-theme. The second half they played soccer with the Youth Educators.
The participants expressed their appreciation for this extra program during the holidays. 71% of the participants "strongly agreed" that the topics discussed are useful in their everyday life; the remaining 38% said they “agreed".
And excitingly, pre- and post-program surveys suggested that the intervention positively changed many boys’ perspectives on gender norms.*
There was one boy that I saw small changes in even time we went [to Maneva]. He was one of my previous students and I knew that he was pretty strong-headed in the way he talked and behaved, and he was very argumentative, even though he was often in the wrong. But as time went on, he still had that self-confidence, but he took in the lessons and admitted when he was wrong. In the end, he was the one who often summarized the key messages from the last week for us. He was motivated to participate in debates and share his viewpoint, but was more balanced in his responses and respected the opinions of others.
This training should definitely continue, as the more kids that receive this training, the more people that take responsibility for the prevention of violence against women and girls, and especially, lead to fewer people that commit that violence in the community.
For me, it’s so important to talk about gender and violence because it happens so often, no matter where you are, and those two things go hand-in-hand. When talking about types of violence, for example, the person can come to the realization that what they are doing is a form of violence; in other words, they can judge their own actions. When talking about gender, a person can really begin to look at themselves and the things in life, and see the consequences of how gender impacts the opportunities of each person. This knowledge and realization is what will enable people to actually hope for a change in their communities.
- Nandrianina, Youth Educator