Reframing Men and Boys in Policy for Gender Equality: Conceptual Guidance and an Agenda for Change

  • Report/Study

Reframing Men and Boys in Policy for Gender Equality: Conceptual Guidance and an Agenda for Change – Resources


Promundo-US, Sonke Gender Justice and the Institute of Development Studies


Jerker Edström and Thea Shahrokh

Publication date

01 Mar 2016

Uploaded on

31 Mar 2016

Downloads & Links resources


It is increasingly recognised that men and boys do need to be engaged in work and policy that is focused on gender in development, but ‘how to do so best’ has remained somewhat elusive for several reasons:

  • There are many resilient, fundamental misunderstandings of what gender means, with ideas caught up in binary thinking that positions all men and women simplistically as homogenous categories of people in competition or conflict with each other.
  • Consequently, there is often a lack of clarity on the actual and potential roles of men and boys in changing gender relations; and most policy framings and related theories of how to bring about change towards greater gender equality (‘theories of change’) are fundamentally inadequate.

This paper on framing and conceptual guidance on the engagement of men and boys in policy for gender equality is based on the outcomes of a recent international EMERGE workshop, held at IDS in October 2015, and draws on a major EMERGE review of evidence (Edström et al. 2015a), a set of eight EMERGE case studies of practice and three unpublished discussion papers by EMERGE consortium partners. Rather than an academic paper or a systemic review, we present a policy framework based on the programme’s evidence and collaborations.

We aim to shift (or revise) analytical frames to bring the problems into sharper focus, by ‘reframing’ the issue of men’s and boys’ roles in gender relations and work for gender equality. This can guide better solutions in both policy and practice, helping to ensure sustained positive change in the lives of women and girls, men and boys and all harmed by gender inequalities.

We focus on transforming imbalances and hierarchies of power that are constructed around gender and other interconnected social inequalities. Whilst considering gender relations in the analytical frame, we do not mean to privilege men and boys over redressing the disadvantages typically faced by women and girls. Rather, we aim to make all genders, and relations between them, more central to resolving this.

Our vision is of a better approach to men, boys and masculinities in policy on gender equality for the future, i.e. a broader reframing of policy in gender and development to include men and boys within a relational perspective, enabling pathways of change to intervene in (and disrupt) the personal, political and structural relationships that maintain power inequalities and hold back progressive social transformation.