Engaging Men Learning Initiative

Engaging Men Learning Initiative

Publication info


Reaching toward a more gender equal world enables societies to tap everyone’s potential – regardless of their gender -  for stronger, more fulfilling and resilient relationships, households and societies. CARE is committed to promoting gender equality as a cornerstone for lasting change, reducing poverty, and achieving social justice. Supporting gender equality requires not only a commitment to supporting the empowerment of women and girls, but also engaging men and boys as allies in this effort.

Similar to CARE’s work on women’s empowerment – which often fosters women’s/girls’ groups to build solidarity, reflect on gender relations and expectations they face as women/girls [femininities], and take action for women’s empowerment and gender equality – engaging men and boys often involves first coming together to reflect on gender relations and expectations men/boys face [masculinities] and taking action for transforming oppressive gender norms and promoting gender equality.

In recent years, CARE and partners have been engaging with men and boys in an effort to promote gender equality. As work in this area continues to evolve, so too has demand increased to develop and disseminate guidance on this strand of the organization’s work. 


What does the process look like?


CARE offices in Norway, Austria and the United States have been collaborating on a process designed to explore and understand work with men and boys through case studies in two different settings. Country offices were invited to submit proposals for consideration through a competitive process.  The two countries selected for participation were Mali and Nepal. 

Specifically, the learning process is intended to:

  • Articulate key elements of promising strategies for engaging men and boys in gender equality;
  • Provide analysis and documentation of two key initiatives, outlining how projects evolved, strategies used and their contributions toward gender equality;
  • Share lessons learned on engaging men and boys programming.

The guiding questions for the collaboration are as follows:

  • What has been the evolution of CARE’s approaches, in relation to engaging men and boys for gender equality?
  • What are the characteristics and main steps of methodologies used?
  • What are the key lessons learned from these processes?


What are we learning?

Men often talk of their relief at being able to let go of the psychological burden of always being in control and laying down the law, and of the comfort and support they draw form a more equitable partnership with their wives. Children – boys and girls – of couples who have been on this journey often talk about reduced conflict and greater feelings of security at home.

- male staff, East/Central Africa


CARE’s approach to working with men and boys for gender equality is strongly grounded in local contexts and rights-based approaches. In review of programming portfolios, promising practices point to six key elements for engaging men and boys for gender equality:

Synchronization: Integrated across each element, this involves coordinating engaging men and boys approaches with women’s and girls’ empowerment approaches – for separate and joint activities – to ensure work thoughtfully intersects with and complements one another to advance gender equality.

  1. Conscientization:  Structured spaces for men and boys to reflect on masculinities, gender, power and privilege in their lives;
  2. Intimate Dialogues: Conversations with intimate partners, and within families to promote more open communication, equitable relationships, nonviolence, support and trust;
  3. Building the Base: A mix of individual outreach and regular meetings to share testimonies and strengthen relationships among male allies to build and expand social support and solidarity;
  4. Stepping Out, Stepping Up: Capacity building and support to men to facilitate discussions and campaign around gender and masculinities to transform social norms;
  5. Alliances for Advocacy: This element focuses on linking with advocacy efforts led by women’s and feminist movements for social and policy change at local, regional and national levels


Learn more about how CARE engages men and boys –from the personal to the political spheres of life –as change agents: for themselves, their relationships and their communities.




Supportive Men: Nepal