Changing Men: Challenging Stereotypes. Reflections on Working with Men on Gender Issues in India

Authors

  • Abhijit Das,

    1. Director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ), a health policy research and advocacy organisation in India.
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  • Satish K. Singh

    1. Deputy Director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice.
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    • We would like to thank a large number of friends and colleagues whose support has been essential for our work. We remain indebted to: comrades of MASVAW (Men's Action for Stopping Violence Against Women); colleagues in SAHAYOG and the Centre for Health and Social Justice; our field-based partners in different states in India; animators and men's group members in different communities; colleagues of Forum to Engage Men (FEM); partners in MenEngage Alliance; friends in SANAM (South Asian Network to Address Masculinities); colleagues at the Institute of Development Studies and partners of the Mobilising Men learning initiative; and our donors over the years – Oxfam India Trust, Save the Children (Sweden), UNFPA, UN Trust Fund for Women, MacArthur Foundation, and Oak Foundation. Last but not least, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to our feminist friends in UP, Delhi and elsewhere in India, for being our first teachers and then continuing to trust us as colleagues and co-travellers.

Abstract

This article describes the journey and lessons of a 12-year-long and still ongoing experience of the two authors in working with men at the community level in different parts of India. Starting with addressing domestic violence, the work has proceeded to address issues of power, control and autonomy within the context of deep-seated cultural beliefs and practices, challenging and changing the roles of men both within homes and outside in different institutions. This work has been spread over a number of ‘projects’, most of which remain interconnected, and currently is spread across a number of states in India. In reviewing the lessons from their practice the authors propose a set of precepts or a ‘theory of change’ for working with men and boys to challenge gender discrimination within the South Asian context. To conclude the article, the authors discuss some of the challenges and predicaments in continuing this work within the current development paradigm.

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