Getting men and boys involved in gender equity


Tostan recognises the importance of engaging men and boys in topics of gender equity

“Educating men about human rights gives them the opportunity to contribute to changing social norms” – Kelly Hawke Baxter, Director of Tostan Canada

Working with men and boys as part of Tostan’s programs has a major effect on Tostan’s impact. Whether we’re talking about putting an end to child marriage, keeping girls in school, or making local and community governance more equitable from a gender standpoint, Tostan’s approach depends on the involvement of men and boys, as well as women and girls.

When everyone in communities — women, girls, men, and boys — is aware of their universal human rights, everyone benefits. When everyone knows that whatever their gender, they have the right to health, safety, and education, women can begin to have a voice when it comes to topics such as family planning and the reevaluation of community norms.

When She Leads Everyone Succeeds

Tostan’s When She Leads Everyone Succeeds project, funded by the Government of Canada, focuses on the right to be protected from all forms of violence, the involvement of women and youth in decision making, and reproductive health. The sessions are delivered to men and boys as well as to women in communities. Local trainers are equipped with the skills they need to train fellow facilitators and replicate the sessions across communities. A more inclusive approach yields a much greater and sustainable impact.

Marking 3 decades of Tostan’s work with some outstanding impact findings

Refined over three decades, Tostan’s powerful Community Empowerment Program (CEP) was co-created in partnership with thousands of communities and visionaries — male and female alike. Much of the ensuing research has been conducted with outside experts, organizations, and academic institutions.

From October 2017 to September 2020 the Breakthrough Generation Initiative implemented Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program simultaneously in 148 villages across four West African countries: 30 in Gambia, 40 in Guinea, 38 in Guinea-Bissau, and 40 in Mali. This set the stage for a new standard of systematic data collection, while also offering learning opportunities about scaling the CEP.

The goal was to enable positive social change and end harmful traditional practices at the grassroots level among rural resource-poor populations with little or no formal schooling, by engaging men and boys alongside women and girls.

At the end of the program, new social norms were in place in all four countries,
representing a major change from the start of the program when the practices of FGC, child marriage, and corporal punishment to discipline wives and children were widely accepted and, in the case of FGC and corporal punishment — expected.

The role, voice, and influence of women in household and community matters significantly increased in the communities of all four countries. This suggests that during the three years of the program, changes in adverse gender norms took place, going well beyond the abandonment of harmful practices that particularly affect girls and women.

These findings provide additional evidence of the validity of the Tostan model in promoting community well-being and of the program’s theory of change. This systemic change is made possible thanks to your unwavering support. With your continued help, we can scale our impact to more communities who need our programs. Thank you for investing in local resources and local leadership for community-led long-term well-being.

Your money moves the needle on human rights.

It goes directly to training community members. It allows facilitators to spread the word and it helps new male allies to stand alongside women and girls, spreading the word from one community to another, thereby creating systemic change.

Support transformational change in communities