Journeys of Transformation: Engaging Men in Women Empowerment Model

Men and women discuss gender norms and values together
Men and women discuss gender norms and values together



The Journeys of Transformation Model aims at engaging men in the promotion and protection of women’s rights.


The model focuses on men’s engagement in women’s economic empowerment, recognizing that this kind of empowerment cannot take place in a sustainable way unless widely supported, and might even have negative consequences such as increased GBV if men feel threatened by it rather than seeing its advantages. It is not narrowly focused on economic empowerment though but also fosters discussion on gender norms related to sexual and reproductive health, division of labor, etc.

Through participation in the group educational activities, couples are encouraged to reflect on rigid gender norms, to examine their personal attitudes and beliefs, and to question traditional ideas about household decision-making and division of labor, caring for children and sharing household tasks. These activities also promote men’s acceptance of and support for their wives’ participation in the VSL groups and for their economic empowerment, and encourage men to reflect on the negative consequences that rigid gender norms and gender inequality have not only on their wives, but also on themselves.

Some activities include men only, others invite couples to participate. Through the presentations, discussions and other activities, the participating men and women are exploring the advantages of gender equitable behaviors for their family members and themselves. The activities are divided into three sections:
o Business management, including sessions on doing business as a couple, division of labor, time-management, etc.;
o Health, including sessions on sexual and reproductive health, the meaning of sexuality and the impact of alcohol on one’s health;
o Laws & policies, including sessions on GBV and gender-related laws and policies, their interpretations and implications.
Each section ends with the invitation to reflect on the new insights and how the participants will use them in their daily lives. A closing ceremony celebrates the achieved changes with all couples involved. In certain areas, participants have decided to form clubs of engaged couples, who are committed to become agents of change in their communities and help other couples to explore the same issues.


Men and boys are seen as a culturally influential group in the community, and therefore they can potentially play a large role in changing the way girls and women are perceived, their social position and the behavior that people adopt towards them. Engagement of men and boys is thus crucial to transform the cultural, social, economic, political and religious systems and power dynamics that perpetuate gender inequality and address the barriers to change. Joint research by CARE Rwanda, Promundo and RWAMREC shows that the income increase among families who participated in VSL as well as in the Journeys of Transformation was almost double those of the gains achieved in those families who participated in VSL only. Couples shared reproductive work more evenly, and partners have reported a reduction in conflict between them and violence against women .


CARE Rwanda realized the need to work with couples and men after its ‘VSL Gender Gap Analysis’ had shown that normative gender roles and inequitable power relations between men and women significantly constrain women’s ability to fully participate in and benefit from the VSL Model. CARE Rwanda engaged with Promundo, a Brazilian NGO that works to promote gender equality and prevent violence against women, children and youth, with a focus on engaging men and boys in changing inequitable and violent forms of masculinities, to benefit from their experiences. A 16-week training course with men and couples was carried out, including 30 couples who were also engaged in VSL. Based on the findings, the current Journeys of Transformation manual was developed, which is currently widely and successfully being used in CARE’s Vulnerable Women Program.


For more information on the Journeys of Transformation Model, see the Journeys of Transformation Training Manual, available from the Resources section of this website. The results of research into the impact of the model by CARE Rwanda, Promundo and RWAMREC have been published in the Gender & Development journal, and this article is also available from the Resources section of this website.

Model Info

  • Date first used: 2010 July

  • Partners using model:

    The Journeys of Transformation approach and manual was developed in partnership with Promundo, a Brazilian NGO, and with the Rwanda Men's Resource Centre (RWAMREC).

  • Districts using model:
    • Ruhango,
    • Nyanza,
    • Nyamagabe,
    • Nyaruguru,
    • Huye,
    • Gisagara