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What is known to date about working with men and boys? (the evidence base)

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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Although very little has been evaluated and more needs to be learned about working with boys and men, a review of the evidence from 58 programmes around the world by the World Health Organization (WHO 2007) indicates that they can lead to the following positive changes:

  • Decreased self-reported use of physical, sexual and psychological violence in intimate relationships (for example, Stepping Stones in South Africa and the Safe Dates Program in the United States);
  • Increased social support of spouses through shifts in community norms and greater awareness of existing services (for example, an initiative in South Africa, Soul City, changed community perceptions around issues of domestic violence and taking action against it);
  • More equitable treatment of sons and daughters;
  • Increased contraceptive and condom use; and
  • Increased communication with partners about child health, contraception and reproductive decision-making.

Other evaluations and assessments have also found that primary prevention approaches in particular can be effective.

Programme H (Promundo, Brazil). Available in English.

Somos Diferentes, Somos Iguales, Sexto Sentido (Puntos de Encuentro, Nicaragua). The evaluation report is available in English and Spanish.

Soul City 4 Evaluation Media Campaign Monitoring and Evaluation Materials (South Africa). Available in English.

Stepping Stones Evaluation Policy Brief (Medical Research Council, South Africa). Available in English.

Men as Partners Program (EngenderHealth, South Africa).  Available in English.

Evaluations and assessments of perpetrator/batterer programmes on the other hand have been mixed, with most finding questionable, limited effects on reducing or preventing repeated abuse (Gondolf, 2003).

Efforts to build an evidence-base on what works to engage men and boys are growing with an increasing amount of assessments, evaluations and documentation of interventions underway.

One such undertaking was the 2009 UNFPA-hosted webinar (Partnering with Men to End Violence against Women: Practices that Work) that shared research findings, lessons learned and promising practices on prevention of gender-based violence in Eastern Europe, drawing on case studies from Turkey, Romania, Armenia and Ukraine.  A summary publication capturing the learning is available in English

A new and important initiative focused on evaluation is a project of Instituto Promundo and partners, supported by the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (Engaging Men to End Gender-Based Violence: a Multi-Country Intervention and Impact Evaluation Study (Brazil, Chile, India and Rwanda)”). This innovative cross-regional project will use rigorous evaluations to identify effective strategies for engaging men in ending violence against women. Educational workshops and campaign activities will centre on deconstructing traditional notions of manhood, promoting gender-equitable and non-violent alternatives, and encouraging positive changes in attitudes and behaviours. In Brazil and India, a “full-intensity” impact evaluation will be carried out with approximately 700-750 young and adult men (using a pre and post-test evaluation design with a control group). In Chile and Rwanda, project partners will carry out “lower-intensity” impact evaluation studies (with roughly 150-200 young and adult men using pre and post-test evaluation design, without a control group). Evaluation results will be widely disseminated at the end of the three year programme in 2011-2012.

EMERGE: Evidence-Based Library for Engaging Men and Boys for Gender Equality.  Available in English.