Positive Masculinity: An Approach to Ending FGM?

Two examples to inspire anti-FGM programs

During the International Stakeholder Dialogue (ISD) on gender transformative approaches to ending Female Genital Mutilation, participants shared good practices that can inspire work towards the abandonment of FGM. Two speakers presented programs that promote gender equality by challenging male socialization: 

 ·  Richine Masengo executive director of Si Jeunesse Savait (SJS) with the “EKOKI project – Young men and women against toxic masculinities and gender-based violence in Kinshasa”.

·   Fidele Rutayisire, Executive Director of Rwandan Men Resource Center (RWAMREC).

 EKOKI Project – Kinshasa, Congo

Si Jeunesse Savait (SJS) is a feminist youth organization located in Kinshasa, DRC. SJS works on the promotion of youth leadership, sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) as well as economic justice and entrepreneurship.

 According to Richine Masengo, the approach developed in the EKOKI project of SJS focuses on challenging gender norms in Congolese society and abandoning all forms of GBV. To do so, the association raises awareness about the concept of positive masculinity as opposed to toxic masculinity in order to encourage participants to reflect on these concepts and to provoke a wider debate in their families and communities.

 The target audience for this project is students under the age of 24 from 15 schools in Kinshasa. Through single-sex discussion groups, lasting between 1 and 2 hours, the youth are invited to address themes around gender norms, inequalities, and physical, psychological and sexual violence. During four sessions per group, different questions are asked, such as: “as a woman/man, what are the things/attitudes that you can’t stand when you see a man/woman?”, “what are the things that you consider normal that are made only for women/men?  The purpose of these questions is to understand the level of discrimination and stereotypes internalized by the participants.

 Thanks to EKOKI, the youth and teachers of the schools involved in the project have committed themselves to the elaboration of moral charters for the schools, one for the relationships between students and the other for the relationships between teachers and students.

 The project has had several spin-offs in the DRC. First, the Ministry of Education has replicated the model in other schools in the country. Second, a major campaign around positive masculinity was implemented with an adult male audience. Finally, the approach has been promoted as a good practice beyond the country’s borders, including through international media.

 To learn more about this project, please visit Si Jeunesse Savait.

RWAMREC – Rwanda

RWAMREC is a feminist organization that works with men to promote gender equality and the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) through positive masculinity. It tries to break harmful gender norms by targeting men and boys. They are represented as victims of these harmful norms, as reproducers of existing patterns, as role models and as agents of change.

 RWAMREC’s programs are built on upstream research to identify men’s and boys’ needs and preferences and are implemented through different approaches. 

 The first approach is “Youth for Change”. It is carried out with young boys and girls. The approach aims to break down harmful gender norms while promoting gender equality to enable healthier relationships between adolescents in school and in their communities. Programs promoting positive masculinities are developed to encourage reflection on beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of gender identities.

 The second approach is “The journey of transformation”. It takes the form of awareness-raising workshops for couples in order to prevent domestic violence, but also to promote equality between women and men, prevent GBV in the community and in the workplace, and support women’s economic empowerment. 55% decrease in domestic violence has been observed in places where RWAMREC has implemented this approach.

 The third approach is the “Bandebereho” which means model to follow in Kinyarwanda. Inspired by the Brazilian organization Promundo‘s Program P, this approach aims to promote men’s participation in reproductive and maternal health, child care and health, and the well-being of each partner. This is done through discussion and reflection sessions that include the couple’s partners. In addition, an evaluation recorded a 45% decrease in GBV in the districts where RWAMREC operated.

 The fourth approach is the “Community Score Cards”, which is a participatory community-based monitoring and evaluation approach. The goal of this approach is to allow communities to assess the quality of GBV management in public services.

 It is important that each approach be adapted to the realities of the community members’ lives in order to be as effective as possible. In order to ensure the success of the approaches, each participant must have access to a safe environment so that (s)he can share freely and all data collected is as reliable as possible.

 You can watch the video of the ISD with the presentation of Richine Masengo and Fidele Rutayisire here.

Results and Report of the International Stakeholder Dialogue 2021 (ISD)

 Do you know of any projects working towards positive masculinity and the abandonment of FGM? Do not hesitate to share them with the CoP moderators.

“The Community of Practice on Female Genital Mutilation” is part of the “Building Bridges between Africa and Europe to tackle FGM” project, supported by the “UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM”.
The project is coordinated by AIDOS in partnership with GAMS Belgium.

The views expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UNFPA, UNICEF or any other agency or organization.

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