New report examines men as allies in women, peace and security

(Reposted from: The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Newsletter. November 2, 2023)

Overview of the Report

The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security launched a new report this week titled “Beyond Engaging Men: Masculinities, (Non)Violence, and Peacebuilding” in collaboration with local research partners from conflict-affected regions in Indonesia and the Philippines and with support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, which has been deeply engaged in peacebuilding across Southeast Asia. 

The report, authored by Dr. Robert U. Nagel, Joshua Allen and Kristine Baekgaard, contributes to a growing body of research that explores how efforts to improve the status of women are strengthened by engaging with men and masculinities.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Yoko Kamikawa, Japan’s Ambassador to the UN Kimihiro Ishikane, and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield helped launch the report at United Nations headquarters on October 30 on the heels of the annual Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security.

“We really need men as allies,” said Amb. Thomas-Greenfield. “Women should not always have to be the ones calling out gender imbalances.” 

“We really need men as allies,” said Amb. Thomas-Greenfield. “Women should not always have to be the ones calling out gender imbalances.” 

The launch event was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Japan and the United States to the United Nations, together with GIWPS and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

“New ideas are needed to elevate this important [WPS] initiative to the next level and adding men’s perspectives on this issue is very critical,” said Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoko Kamikawa, who has been an exceptional leader on Women, Peace and Security in Japan. “For example, Japan’s third National Action Plan specifically includes references to the need for men’s engagement and identifies strengthening of advocacy for men as a key action to take.”

The launch event also included remarks by President and Founder of Equimundo Dr. Gary Barker; Chair of the Board of Trustees for Indonesian Justice and Peace Foundation Ms. Samsidar; and Director and Senior Program Officer of Peacebuilding Program at Sasakawa Peace Foundation Ms. Maho Nakayama.

Key Findings and Policy Implications

Drawing on a survey of over 6,000 men and women in Aceh and Maluku in Indonesia and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the Philippines carried out by local partners and their teams of enumerators, the report identifies the kinds of masculinity norms that are playing out in three cases, how these norms are related to peace and violence, and how they shape women’s ability to access power. Key findings and policy implications include:

  • Men consider being capable of violence the least important quality for being a man across three conflict-affected communities. Instead, they value being protective, family-oriented, strong but nonviolent, religious, and economic providers.
  • Efforts to advance women’s economic empowerment might be particularly susceptible to backlash from men because they value the role of economic provider–and consequently may require additional safeguards.
  • Women, especially in their roles as mothers and wives, play a significant part in shaping expectations of masculinity. 
  • Violence prevention programs need to work with men and women. Wives and mothers can be key allies in programs seeking to change men’s beliefs and behaviors.
  • Male respondents express a desire for different expectations of masculinity.
  • Participatory programs should engage with local men and boys to identify what different roles and responsibilities they desire and explore how these can support gender equality and sustainable peace.

Highlighting Our Local Partners

The report is the result of a three-year long international research collaboration between GIWPS, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, and dedicated researchers and activists from organizations including the International Center for Aceh and Indian Ocean StudiesIntersectional Gender Research and Learning AsiaMindanao State UniversityPASKA Aceh; and Pattimura University in Ambon, Maluku. It is part of a series of reports exploring attitudes towards masculinities, violence, and peace in the region, with publications from local partners forthcoming.

GIWPS was honored to have partner researchers from Indonesia and the Philippines join us at Georgetown University for an expert panel discussion and workshop.

“Masculinities are complex and evolving. The household and community are an important and overlooked domain for determining masculinity and transforming gender inequalities after conflict,” said Ms. Rizki Affiat, co-founder and co-executive director of InteGRAL. 

Learn more about our transnational partnership.

Why Focus on Men and Masculinities?

“Bringing in men and masculinities avoids burdening women with the sole obligation of achieving gender equality. We need to mobilize men to create more gender-equal processes and institutions that will benefit everyone.” 

Dr. Robert U Nagel, Lead Report Author, GIWPS

“Women’s empowerment alone will not lead us to systemic transformation on the ground. We need to understand the perceptions of male stakeholders and gain their trust and make them understand women’s empowerment”

Maho Nakayama, Director and Senior Program Officer, Peacebuilding Program, Sasakawa Peace Foundation
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