Engaging Men and Boys to End GBV and Promote SRH

21 May 2015



Mr. Michael Kaufman during the "National References Group Meeting on "Gender & Male Involvement" with UNFPA in Jakarta on 18 May 2015.


Why is it important to engage men and boys to reduce gender inequalities? How can we involve them to explore changing gender norms? What kind of positive role can men play to end gender-based violence?


These were some of the questions discussed during a UNFPA Indonesia workshop in Jakarta designed to increase the knowledge and understanding on gender transformative programming. The session, which was part of a conference from 18-20 May, was attended by Government officials, religious leaders and representatives from non-government organizations, civil-society organizations, universities, UN agencies and development partners.


“A gender transformative approach helps communities and policy makers understand and challenge the social norms that create inequalities between men and women,” explained UNFPA Country Representative Mr. Jose Ferraris, during his welcome address at the conference.


“We need to understand the foundations for why men and women behave the way they do, and recognize that gender norms create inequality in all types of relationships – from personal through to commercial, political and religious.”


Mr. Michael Kaufman, one of the founders of the White Ribbon Campaign, facilitated the workshop and discussed the importance of engaging men and boys in planning programme interventions – with a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence.  


“Welcoming men in gender-based violence prevention is important because not only women benefit from ending gender-based violence, but men will benefit as well,” he explained during the first of three workshops. “Gender transformation is a notion to transform both men and women in transforming society in a way so that life becomes safer for men and women and healthier for children as well.”


Mr. Kaufman, who explained that the goal of the workshop was to explore how to successfully engage men and boys to end gender-based violence, also highlighted some global and regional success stories – underlining examples where cases had been implemented to engage men and boys in sexual-reproductive health and gender-based violence prevention – such as the White Ribbon Campaign, a global movement organized by men working to end men’s violence against women.


“We assume that working to engage men is difficult. But men have wanted all their lives to hear these messages – that they are not alone or that they don’t have to live up to certain expectations. By working together… we can create a safe environment for men,” he explained.


Secretary of the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry (KPPPA) Sri Danti Anwar, emphasized that women could not work alone to address gender issues in her keynote speech.


“Involving men and boys is essential to achieve gender equality,” she explained, adding that a parenting role through male involvement was important to develop a good quality of human resources. “Gender transformation is important, we need to educate male groups to support and partner with women’s groups. We need to identify women’s partners through male involvement to discuss the issues such as maternal mortality rate reduction and the elimination of gender-based violence.”


The workshop was also an opportunity for partners from the National Reference Group on Men and Boys’ Involvement to present updates on initiatives that had been implemented since they first met last year. The group was established in December in response to the growing number of Indonesian programmes in place with a common goal to engage men and boys in gender equality. As a number of programmes and resources had already been developed in isolation by the Government, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, the idea was to bring all stakeholders together to minimize duplicating research efforts and to create a platform to share lessons learned.  UNFPA serves as the Secretariat for the NRG.


“Our belief at UNFPA is that with greater coordination between all the relevant stakeholders our efforts on engaging men and boys will expand further across Indonesia and have a deeper impact,” Mr. Ferraris said.


KPPPA highlighted their coordination with other related ministries to integrate male involvement into their policies and programmes, BKKBN discussed their campaign – driven by the media and religious leaders – to increase male participation in family planning, the National Aids Commission (NAC) explained how they had expanded their PMTS programme to now involve men as a target, the University of Indonesia talked about upcoming research on male involvement in reducing maternal mortality rates, while the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) revealed that they were developing a draft policy on gender-based human rights, which will be inserted into school curricula.