New Campaign Teaching Young Men How To Break Gender Violence Cycles


We’ve been hearing a lot of gender violence stories in the media lately, especially relating to rape of women and there has been a lot of outrage at governments and social institutions alike. Protests where women are holding signs which read “what she was wearing doesn’t mean she was asking for it” and “don’t teach my daughter not to go out in public, teach your son not to rape” are startling reminders that this is an every day issue and at times we have focused on the wrong thing: equipping just women to deal with these situations.

But there are initiatives all over the world solely dedicated to educating young men on the issue of gender violence and how they can play a crucial role in preventing it. Dr. Jackson Katz in a TED Talk in 2013 ago spoke very eloquently and powerfully about how much of an effect a man can have in the current climate of sexual crimes, simply by being educated.

Care International started an important initiative in 2007 called the Young Men’s Initiative where they educate school-aged young men why sexual violence is wrong, teach them the everyday examples of sexism that they probably didn’t think were bad, and show them how they can be an effective part of change in their own communities.

They specifically target boys in countries which have seen terrible wars, where women have been victims of sexual violence because of the climate and have had no advocacy for their struggles.

This week representatives from more than 140 countries will gather in London for the very first summit dedicated to ending sexual violence in conflict zones, which was created by Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

In light of this momentous conference being held, Care International have launched a new petition called Change Attitudes which is about the educational aspect to this important topic and how it is crucial to alleviating sexual violence at its very core: the way men view women.


Alice Allan, global head of advocacy at Care International and adviser to Hague on the preventing sexual violence initiative, says: “We will not end warzone rape unless we tackle its root causes. Sickening attacks on women and girls are a daily occurrence around the world. Ministers must use this moment to galvanise action to shift global attitudes to women.”

One of the countries which has experienced the pain of conflict is Kosovo, which is one of 22 countries where Care International takes their initiative to educate young men. It is estimated that 20,000 women were raped during the Kosovo war, according to the Guardian.

A study by the Kosovo Women’s Network in 2008, almost a decade after the war, found that 43% of the population had experienced domestic violence, and that violence against women and children is largely under-reported. “For most people,” John Crownover, programme adviser for the initiative, says, “violence is not seen as a violation of women’s rights but as normal interaction between men and women.”

The initiative tries to shift attitudes away from the hyper-masculine imagery that these young boys grew up viewing, and teaches them that gender inequalities can lead to much greater problems in the future for their communities.


The program also identifies other social and cultural markers and messages which only serve to perpetuate old ways of thinking, and offer new solutions for the boys, allowing them to think for themselves about how they view women, rather than against the backdrop of a war-zone and the men they grew up emulating.

According to the World Health Organisation, attitudes that accept violence and gender inequality increase the likelihood of both intimate partner and sexual violence. This underlines the importance of education in tackling these problems, not just for conflict-affected areas but also more widely.

“Gender inequality is not a women’s issue – it concerns every member of society. Men and boys must be allies and champions for change and this can stop the cycle of violence from spreading to the next generation,” Alice Allan says.

Women, we should be encouraging the men in our lives to be part of this discussion, and allow them to share their thoughts. Men, this is your issue just as much as it is ours. We need to work together, and we need your voice to be part of the solution, not just the problem.



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