UNESCO report on masculinity, men and gender equality: On June 23, 2021, UNESCO released a report on how men and boys play a pivotal role in achieving gender equality and women empowerment, Titled “Changing MENtalities: Gender Equality and masculinities in India”, the report suggests ways in which men and boys should be brought on board in the discussion and efforts to encourage gender equality and women empowerment in India.
Quoting a research, the report states that it might take 136 years for men and women to reach gender parity in the field of economics, education, politics or health. Lack of the indulgence of men in gender equality programs is one of the impediments that has led to its failure in many instances. So the agenda of the UNESCO report is to amplify the discussions and efforts to achieve gender equality by including men and suggest practical strategies and solutions to strengthen the national programs for gender equality and women empowerment. So here are some highlights from the report:
Highlights of UNESCO report on men, masculinity and gender equality
- The decision-makers among stakeholders must “actively and publicly” involve men and boys in their approach towards gender equality and women empowerment. There is a need to form national strategies to involve men in any gender equality and women empowerment programs. Men should be involved in “reframing gender roles in critical sectors and promoting harmony and cooperation in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5”.
- Childhood education programs should be formulated to provide education in gender sensitisation to boys at an early age when they begin internalising social norms. This will help in eradicating the inter0generational cycle of gender discrimination.
- The report states that “mental health is a significant risk factor associated with conflicts in masculinities and unbalanced gender roles.” Unaddressed mental health issues lead to violent and discriminatory behaviours and so it is important to address mental health issues and decrease gender violence and discrimination.
- Creating an effective justice system that carefully handles the cases of gender-based violence is imperative to achieve the goal of gender equality and women empowerment. It will not only prevent future crimes but also encourage women to speak up and report crimes.
- Another important part of gender equality and women empowerment efforts is to direct them towards rural India. The population, culture and situation in rural areas require a different approach to address the issue of gender inequality and so efforts should be made to uproot the power dynamics in rural areas.
- As far as rural area is concerned, the report also focuses on the need of addressing environmental issues to eradicate gender inequality in rural India. The report states that environmental issues like climate change affect men and women directly, even though women are the “first and the most disproportionately” affected by these issues. So a gender equality program focused on the issues of rural areas and which also engages men will help in achieving both gender equality and environmental sustainability.
- The report also suggests changing social and cultural norms in various fields in order to achieve gender equality. This can be done by producing gender sensitising and gender-sensitive school materials that focus on the ideas of respect, diversity, acceptance and producing social changes, and getting rid of harmful stereotypes and tropes of media that build negative ideas about masculinity and femininity among others.
- There is a need to redefine gender roles like politicians, police officers and other positions of power that has traditionally belonged to men.
- Masculinity is diverse and is defined by factors such as family tradition, religion, caste and class among others. So it is important for the stakeholders and the programs for gender equality and women empowerment to recognise the plurality of masculinity.
- Values like transparency, accountability, collaborations, and convergence should be implemented in the stakeholders that champion gender equality. Especially there is a need to evaluate how the fundings of Indian government sectors are channelled and used in gender equality and women empowerment programs.
You can read the full report here.