Involving Men in Gender Practice and Policy
The rationale for engaging men to positively transform gender relations is compelling. This paper outlines the arguments for male inclusion, both for gender equality and for men themselves, the principles that should underpin their involvement, and some notes of caution about the process. Men have traditionally been treated as generic and ungendered representatives of humanity. Engaging them is therefore about addressing men as gendered beings who participate in gender relations. Patterns of gender injustice are tied to social constructions of masculinity and male identity. It is therefore crucial to work with men to build new definitions and identities to which they can aspire. Men, as well as women, have a stake in fostering gender equity. They pay significant emotional, physical and social prices for adhering to traditional masculine norms, particularly in conflict situations. However, engaging men does involve (perceived) risks, particularly that it will distract attention and resources away from core feminist goals of justice for women. Positive male involvement should be guided by a pro-feminist approach, sensitive to diversity amongst men, and acknowledging of male contributions. If gender mainstreaming is to achieve any radical transformation of the patriarchal gender order this kind of work needs to be widely adopted, funded, institutionalised and integrated into policy and professional development.