News / Asia

Q&A with Brian Heilman: Engaging Men and Boys on Gender Equality

FILE - Indian people march during a 'I Respect Women' walk for gender equality organized by a local hotel and Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India in New Delhi, India.
FILE - Indian people march during a 'I Respect Women' walk for gender equality organized by a local hotel and Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India in New Delhi, India.
Frances Alonzo

Recent cases of violence against women in Asia have been horrifying. "Boy" preference in pregnancy, or a father stoning his own daughter in an "honor-killing" in front of a court house in Lahore, Pakistan. In India, two young cousins hung from trees after being gang-raped; there was also the high-profile case of then-12 year old Malala Yousafzai being shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls in Pakistan. The message is clear to women and girls: you are not safe; you are not valued; you don't matter.

But as local and international communities are more and more vocal about their outrage of the treatment of women and girls, the tide is turning. To truly see change, the root causes of violence must be challenged.

Brian Heilman, Gender and Evaluation Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) has authored a new report on his research that shows that gender norms and behaviors that lead to violence are developed when boys are young. He told Daybreak Asia's Frances Alonzo of the importance of engaging men and boys to advance gender equality and the success of school based programs to help boys and girls build gender-equitable, healthy, non-violent lifestyles at a pivotal time when attitudes and behaviors are still being developed.

Q&A with Brian Heilman: Engaging Men and Boys on Gender Equality
Q&A with Brian Heilman: Engaging Men and Boys on Gender Equalityi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

HEILMAN: One of the major findings that comes out of this study is that across countries, across socio-economic backgrounds, across different demographic characteristics, really it’s attitudes of male privilege and male sexual entitlement. Really attitudes of gender inequality that link most strongly with a man’s likelihood of perpetrating rape.

ALONZO:  Something I have just always wondered, is what makes it okay, in any culture, for men to mistreat women?

HEILMAN: The influences that lead a man, even lead a woman to feel that, that it’s acceptable or to feel that that’s a customary part of conflict resolution in the home or in the community. Those influences start very early in children’s lives. If you grow up watching your parents use violence or watching your father or a man use violence against your mother to solve some kind of conflict or to maintain rules of the household or whatever, you come to learn pretty naturally that that is a common part of family life. That’s a common part of relationships and it’s passed on from generation to generation. And our findings really support that. So, I think that’s part of why ICRW and a lot of different organizations try to promote some critical conversations where boys and girls can have a different sort of message around them. I think it doesn’t necessarily work to approach someone who has a high status in his community and feels very entrenched in his way of life and beliefs to very directly challenge that. To tell him that he’s wrong. To tell him that some other cultural notion is superior to his cultural notion. That’s certainly a much, much more challenging prospect than starting at very early ages.

ALONZO:  So are you just writing off the adults, and say “you know what, we can’t change their minds,” is that what you are saying?

HEILMAN:  Not exactly, no. It’s a challenging prospect and the field is really starting to take seriously the challenge of preventing this violence before it ever happens. I don’t think that’s tantamount to writing off adults in any case.

ALONZO:  Are men more receptive to hearing about changing their behavior from men, or from women? Does the messenger matter? 

HEILMAN: I think the messenger probably matters a little bit at least early on in the conversation. In some of our research in the school settings especially we’ve shown how influential it can be for the person delivering the message to young men or young women to really be sort of in a peer or a role model role. So maybe someone who is just three to four years older than them, someone who is kind of cool  and who they would aspire to be like as they grow up. That function in these school settings where we are having critical conversations about gender has proven to be pretty influential.

ALONZO:  Once you put all these programs in place, is there a timeframe where you begin to see change?

HEILMAN: We found that it is very possible and very effective to build critical conversations about relations between men and women about the acceptability of violence into a secondary school or even a primary school curriculum in a way that really resonates with young boys and girls and that shows demonstrable changes in their feelings and attitudes and behaviors after participating in the program even after a very short intervention of one academic year. We saw significant changes in these attitudes.

In India, we are very excited about a program called the Gender Equity Movement in Schools, or GEMS, which was first implemented in 30 schools in Mumbai, and showed significant changes in participating students attitudes related to their acceptability of violence and about how boys and girls should really be treated equal. And we’re thrilled that the state government of Majarashtra has been excited about these changes and are now implementing that program across the entire state curriculum. This is the scale of India, so that’s reaching 25,000 public schools across Majarashtra. Now to your question of the timeline, we’re believing that these boys and girls, they’ll grow up to have much more equitable relationships and really bring their children up in a world where the prevalence of violence would be much lower.

The scope of the problem is huge enough where it’s going take, maybe, our grandkids. We, as an international community, cannot yet really stand up with our heads held high and tell the women of the world that we’re doing everything we can to stop this violence. There’s a lot more that needs to be done.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid