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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid