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CARE Guatemala Promotes Masculinity Over Machismo in Social Media Campaign

A profile of a woman holding up a necklace.

Nancy Farese / CARE

Nancy Farese / CARE

Every day, 187 women in Guatemala report being victims of violence, generally caused by men (Public Ministry of Guatemala). To shift norms and attitudes around long-standing toxic machismo culture and widespread gender-based violence (GBV) against women, CARE Guatemala, in partnership with Meta, ran a social and behavior change communication (SBCC) campaign in 2022.

The six-week digital campaign, which ran from October to November in 2022, tested ads combating toxic masculinity and emphasizing that there are many ways to be a man in both affluent and non-affluent areas of Guatemala.


  • CARE Guatemala ran a six-week ad campaign that addressed issues of gender-based violence, reaching 1.9 million people in urban and rural regions of the country.
  • The campaign was effective in helping people see the link between machismo and violence, with approximately 40,700 additional people* likely to believe in the importance of combating machismo to reduce gender-based violence.
  • Of those who saw the ads, around 25,700 more people* were likely to raise the issue of machismo in Guatemala to their friends.

Creative process

Partnering with Data for Good at Meta , the campaign began with a social listening phase to understand the current knowledge, behavior and attitudes towards GBV in Guatemala. These insights were utilized by CARE Guatemala staff to brainstorm and design a range of ads under the theme “Masculinidad ≠ Machismo, los hombres fuertes rechazan la violencia,” or “Masculinity ≠ Machismo, strong men reject violence.”

To tap into the highly engaged ad format of Instagram Stories and Reels, short, 15-second vertical videos were created. All ads were linked to a landing page that provided more information.

“Our previous campaigns that addressed gender-based violence always focused on women. In this campaign, we had the challenge of speaking to the men and making sure that the messages were not rejected,” said Carolina Rivas, the Communications Officer for CARE Guatemala.

To ensure the messages resonated with men, CARE Guatemala held multiple focus groups that included men, women, and gender specialists. They then took the best ideas and tested them with a group of CARE male staff members. Based on these insights, videos were developed featuring CARE male staff members sharing in their own words.

“We thought that by doing it more organically, more men could identify,” Rivas shared.

The video below, which achieved the highest engagement, was a CARE Guatemala video featuring a CARE staff member.

In addition to the videos, CARE Guatemala used infographics to highlight the idea of new masculinity, which rejects the toxic aspects of machismo and promotes more inclusive ways to “be a man.”

The graphic below, which was the most shared post in the campaign, compares behaviors that define traditional masculinity and those that define the more progressive movement of new masculinity.

Some communication results from the campaign included:

  • The campaign had a video completion rate (VCR) of 14%, which is two times higher than the VCR observed during CARE Guatemala’s COVID campaigns. This could be due to these videos being shorter and utilizing vertical video best practices like mobile optimized videos and text overlays.
  • Both urban and rural city populations had similar rates of engagement, however the urban audience was three times more reachable.


With support from Meta, CARE Guatemala’s ad campaign reached 1.9 million individuals across the country. To gauge how effective the campaign was in changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior, Meta facilitated a brand lift study where both people exposed and unexposed to the ads were asked:

  • Ad Recall: Do you recall seeing an ad from CARE Guatemala online or on a mobile device in the past two days?
  • How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “A man can share household responsibilities with his wife and still be a man.”
  • How important do you think it is to combat machismo to reduce violence in Guatemala?
  • How likely are you to talk to your friends about the issue of machismo in Guatemala?

The brand lift study further targeted testing between urban and rural cities within Guatemala to assess if there was a difference in attitudes and learning. The main results included:

  • Approximately 40,700 additional people across both campaign audiences were likely to believe in the importance of combating machismo to reduce gender-based violence.
  • This suggests that the content was effective in helping people see the link between machismo and violence.
  • The largest lift occurred in the 18-24 age group among the urban audience and the 24-34 age group among the rural city audience. These findings could inform future ad campaign targeting and design.
  • The final question achieved a significant lift of 1.8 points among the urban audience, meaning that around 25,700 more people in this audience were likely to talk to their friends about the issue of machismo in Guatemala.

In Guatemala we saw an interesting result of significant increase in the urban audience (1.7-point lift) but not in the non-affluent audience (0.7-point lift) with regards to the last question.

“In Guatemala, machismo persists and inequality and religion sustain it,” commented Rivas in response to this finding. “Unfortunately, rural areas are more unequal and have higher poverty rates, therefore, there is less education, less access to information, fewer opportunities and spaces for discussion.”

What’s next?

The norms of prioritizing the education of boys and leaving girls at home to prepare them to be mothers or wives persist in Guatemala. According to Rivas, discussing topics such as violence and machismo also lead to hard-to-rebut statements surrounding religion and what “God says.” Nonetheless, CARE Guatemala is still looking for ways to communicate effectively to all audiences about reducing gender-based violence and toxic machismo culture.

To this end, they have also launched a second phase of the campaign to understand the number of times men need to see a message in order to make a behavior change.

* These numbers may include some double-counting among the urban population targeted in Guatemala since there was significant lift in two different brand lift study questions.

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