New E-Group: Working with Men and Boys to Address Violence against Girls, Boys, Women and Men

In-spite of over a decade of attention to mainstream gender concerns in development policy and practice, gender inequalities that disadvantage girls and women persist in South and Central Asia, including unequal access to education, health care and income. Violence against women and girls - and violence, in general, is an issue, which almost all parts of the region have been forced to confront. We know that violence, as a phenomenon is endemic to social structures that are based on a hierarchy of power. It has been suggested that gender based violence is unleashed to perpetuate gender inequalities and keep in place gendered orders. It is rooted in rigid discourses of what constitutes the masculine and the feminine and the power relationships between men and women - boys and girls as well as other men.
There is urgent need to broaden this enquiry and activism to include boys and men if we want to promote gender equality and justice. The narrow path of traditional masculinities might provide young boys with a sense of entitlement to power but it also chips away the possibilities of building healthy and equitable relationships with girls/women as well as other boys/men and traps them into a web of trauma and inadequacies.  However, on the positive side, the fact that not all boys are violent gives us hope for changing the world we live in. All young boys are socialised in ways that promote gender inequality and violence but not all boys adopt these gendered behaviour patterns and most do not act out these roles all the time. This experience could be the resource for building interventions and partnerships with young people on gender based violence.
While some individuals and groups have sought this understanding, they have often worked in relative isolation from each other. There has not been a concerted effort or opportunity for an exchange - this e-group aims to achieve that.

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