5.6 Involving Men and Boys in Programs can Facilitate Long-Term Change of Social Norms that Negatively Impact AGYW

Men and boys generally enjoy a dominant position in society. This makes them ideal agents of change—they can challenge social norms and create a supportive environment where adolescent girls and young women can empower themselves. YEO programs can lead men and boys in reflections on societal expectations for men: their role as economic providers or the practice of exerting physical force over others. If men and boys question those expectations and lead the change of social norms, they can open up spaces for AGYW to earn money, manage finances, and live free of gender-based violence. Box 5.6.1 features a successful experience integrating men and boys into YEO programs.

5.6.1 Noteworthy Results: Integrating Boys and Men into Livelihoods Programs for AGYW

Village Savings and Loan (VSL) programs have proven to be an effective tool for AGYW livelihoods in development contexts. The London School of Economics studied an International Rescue Committee (IRC) VSL program for returned refugees and internally displaced women in postconflict Burundi to examine how to increase their participation in financial decisions within the household and reduce domestic violence towards women. As part of a pilot project in Burundi in 2007 to reduce vulnerability to domestic violence through increased access to savings, 25 self-selected groups (of 10-25 women each) saved an agreed-upon amount in a loan fund, from which members could borrow. Half of the participants also participated in a discussion group with their spouses to talk about progressive attitudes towards gender and household decision making. The aim was to

highlight the importance of young women in the household and to identify harmful attitudes and practices by focusing conversations on financial planning and household decision making. The evaluation tested the added value of the discussion groups in increasing awareness of gender equity, versus providing additional economic resources alone. Evaluation findings included:

  • Increase in young, married women’s economic resources;
  • Increase in young, married women’s agency in household decision-making; and
  • Reduced tolerance for, and incidence of domestic violence.

For more information, see www.rescue.org.