Reducing socio-economic inequalities prevailing in the society can have far-reaching implications. Promundo, an organisation aimed at promoting gender justice, has supplemented an existing Cash Transfer program in Brazil with their companion program which would engage men to understand the need to end inequality and prevent gender-based violence.
In Brazil, the government’s Bolsa Família program has been actively involved in the upliftment of about 36 million people above the poverty line since 2003. Today, the program benefits nearly a quarter of country’s population — and Guardian reports that 93% of beneficiaries are women. The program is aimed at empowering women directly and encourages them to take greater control of family resources and lets them exercise their right to equality in household decision-making.
To strengthen the existing efforts to achieve gender equality, Promundo launched the Bolsa Família Companion Program, which would engage men to cut gender-based violence, and encourage them to undertake unpaid care work. With support from UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality, the program has partnered with Insituto Papai to conduct three years of educational workshops and campaigns in Rio de Janeiro and Recife. By inviting both men and women to talk about shared-decision making and power dynamics within their households would greatly help in decreasing gender-inequality.
“We worked with staff who implement that programme to say, let’s encourage him to be part of helping the child with homework, let’s encourage him to go to the meetings with teachers,” the CEO of Promundo Gary Barker said,
Interestingly, in an issue that India will also find resonance, the Guardian goes on to report that Barker had earlier “campaigned for more paternity leave in Brazil, in 2007, but failed because too many employers did not want to provide this extra benefit to staff. He was also told by women’s rights organisations that mothers did not believe their partners were ready to care for their children.”
The results of this Promundo program, meanwhile, are encouraging. In the beginning, 75% of male participants agreed that men’s responsibilities include child care, which turned to 100% by the end of the program. Furthermore, the end of the program also noticed a considerable dip in the number of men who still support gender-based stereotypes such as the ones related to child care and household chores.
Women’s perceptions and their role in the family also reportedly considerably changed following the program. Women have gained a deeper understanding of their right to equally sharing the care work and their right to financial independence. The lessons learned during this program will be documented and shared with the international community, targeting countries that have similar policies and practices.
Feature Image: The Guardian