Engaging Men and Women for Gender Equality

UN Women/Emad Karim

The Men and Women for Gender Equality programme seeks to better understand the root causes of gender inequalities in the Arab States and to address them through an innovative bottom-up approach, including through the engagement of men and boys for gender equality. This regional programme has specific focus on Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Our Solutions

With the overall goal to enhance gender equality in the region, the programme intends more specifically to contribute to the following: (add infographic symbols to each)

  • Better understand the root causes of gender inequality, and use an evidence-based approach to advocate for policy change
  • Strengthen the capacities and networks of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) civil society organizations, with a focus on the sustainability of new and emerging movements, including those that are youth-led
  • Support to the development of innovative, community-led solutions to advance gender equality

How we work:

Evidence-based advocacy, including using the following resources:

  • The International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES MENA) conducted by UN Women, Promundo and local research partners in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the State of Palestine, is the first multi-country study in the MENA region to take a wide-angle lens to the lives of women and men and their attitudes towards gender equality.
  • The #Because_Iam _a_Man regional outreach campaign launched in 2017 uses the key findings of IMAGES MENA and other knowledge products to challenge gender stereotypes and to raise awareness on the positive roles men can play in achieving gender equality.
  • Four Guidance Notes based on IMAGES MENA were elaborated to inform the development of national policies and programmes on fatherhood and caregiving; gender socialization; engaging youth, with a focus on young men; and ending violence against women.
  • Furthermore, a Business Case for Gender Equality in the Workplace has been produced.
  • A youth and gender advocacy toolkit are available to support young people to advocate for gender equality, as well as number or communication and social media products.
  • Research and knowledge products on women’s rights in Muslim family contexts, quantitative research on male guardianship in Morocco and tools for promoting alternative interpretations of religious texts were also produced with the support of this programme, in collaboration with UN Women’s partner organizations Musawah, and the Centre des Etudes et Recherches Féminines en Islam (CERFI) in Morocco.

Capacity development, community engagement and youth networks

  • The Men and Women for Gender Equality programme has strengthened the capacity of community-based organisations to undertake activities to promote gender equality, including through the engagement of men and boys in gender equality. A regional network of gender trainers has been established in the region, with technical support from ABAAD Resource Centre in Lebanon. Community based and national level organisations in the four participating countries are taking action to promote gender equality, informed by the IMAGES MENA findings. For example:
  • In Egypt, the Youth Association for Local Community combats harassment against women by raising awareness of and engaging tuktuk drivers and owners of professional crafts shops in local communities to stop sexual harassment.
  • In Morocco, Ayadi Al Amal (local CBO) address gender stereotypes and integrate values of gender equality and human rights by training teachers, male and female students and by organizing contests in schools.
  • In the State of Palestine, Al Ofoq Foundation for Youth conduct workshops with fathers on masculinities and gender to encourage them to take joint responsibility with mothers in raising their children and helping children with homework. After receiving a training these fathers influence their peers on the positive impact of being involved in this issue.
  • In Lebanon, the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering conducted an opinion poll on child marriage and are using the results as a basis to sensitize the public as well as political parties on this issue. Meetings are conducted with parliamentarians and political parties to introduce RDFL’s proposed law and lobby for its discussion in parliament and thereafter adoption and ratification. The project promotes the engagement of men and boys from political parties, media outlets, as decision makers, and as fathers and community leaders through awareness raising on gender and cultural norms, encouraging them to say no to child marriage and to promote gender-equitable behaviours.
  • Women’s rights and other organisations have enhanced capacity to promote gender equality in the family context by using feminist interpretations of Islam, which have also informed university curricula and a regional network of women’s rights activists has been established.
  • The programme supports the dissemination of best practices in this field through the use of exchanges within and with other regions. The programme has also contributed to the establishment of the UN Women ROAS Gender Innovation Agora to engage young men and women across the region to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in their national context. A key part of the Agora’s work is the HerStory initiative to engage youth in the promotion of gender equality and to increase awareness of women’s leadership and contribution to human development, including through supporting better representation and visibility of women online.


Key findings of IMAGES MENA

  • While a majority of men surveyed in the four countries had a traditional view of gender roles --where the man's duty is to provide for the family and the women’s duty is to take care of the home and the children -- a sizable minority[1] acknowledged and supported women’s equality in many aspects of public and private life;
  • In Egypt, Morocco and Palestine[2], young men’s views of gender equality did not differ substantially from those of older men. (This contrasted with other regions where younger men showed more equitable attitudes than the older generation);
  • The roots of gender-based violence lie in women’s limited power, in attitudes supportive of violence and in childhoods with a high level of violence. The violence men and women experience as children, in adulthood turns to violence against their own children;
  • There are two key drivers for more equitable attitudes and practices: having more equitable and involved fathers, or life circumstances that force men to take on new household roles. 

Articles and stories of change:

Videos produced under the programme:

“For the full playlist please press here”.

Programme Contacts:

Lena Karlsson, Regional Programme Manager

Rasha Abouelazm, Project Coordinator Egypt, rasha.abouelazm@unwomen.org

Jumanah Zabaneh, Project Coordinator Lebanon, jumanah.zabaneh@unwomen.org

Hadeel Abdo, Project Coordinator Palestine, hadeel.abdo@unwomen.org

Zineb Chebihi, Project Coordinator Morocco, zineb.chebihi@unwomen.org


[1] A quarter or more of men were surveyed in each of the four countries.

[2] In Lebanon, younger men show slightly more equitable attitudes than the older generation.