Pathway 6 - Engaging men and boys

Pathway 6 - Engaging men and boys

This pathway contributes to change by:

Pro-actively engaging men and boys in promoting and supporting women's rights.

 See below for the specific sections of this pathway. For further information on each section please refer to the attached document.


This pathway aims to have an impact on all vulnerable women. All vulnerable women are at considerable risk of their rights not being recognized or respected by men and boys.

The pathway targets men and boys in the community, specifically those who are considered opinion leaders (e.g. local authorities or religious leaders) as well as those couples who are known to live in disharmony with each other.

Although the pathway’s primary objective is to contribute to positive change in vulnerable women’s lives, CARE Rwanda recognizes that rigid masculinities also have negative consequences for men and boys. Therefore, changing such norms also positively influences them directly.

  • RWAMREC, being the only local NGO that focuses on engaging men in Rwanda.
  • PROMUNDO and Sonke, two of the leading  organizations in the area of engaging men in women´s empowerment worldwide.
  • Local authorities and religious leaders, who need to play a key role in giving the good example in being engaged in promoting and supporting women’s rights.
  • The National Youth Council and National Women’s Council, who are potential strong entry points for the scale-up of approaches focusing on engagement of boys and young men.

CARE Rwanda’s work on this pathway is informed by the Government of Rwanda’s policy context. Of specific importance to this pathway are:

  • The Law on Matrimonial Regimes, Liberalities and Successions (1999) specifies that women have the same rights to inheritance as men. Although practices are slowly changing, a lack of awareness and cultural practices prevent the law from being fully implemented.
  • The Organic Law Determining the Use and Management of Land in Rwanda (2005) determines equal rights of wife and husband over their land and prohibits any discrimination in matters relating to ownership or possession of rights over the land based on sex.
  • The National Gender Policy (MIGEPROF, 2010) highlights principal guidelines on which sectoral policies and programs will base to integrate gender issues
  • The National Policy Against Gender-Based Violence (MIGEPROF, 2011) shows how the GoR is engaged in prevention, response and evidence building of GBV.

CARE Rwanda recognizes that in order to achieve a situation in which women´s rights are overall known and respected, it needs to work at multiple levels. This pathway focuses on the engagement of men and boys in the promotion of women’s rights, so that they can become our allies in achieving overall respect for women’s rights. It works in close collaboration with pathway 6 that targets women themselves, in order to raise awareness and capacities to exercise her right, pathway 8 which specifically looks at the protection of women from GBV as well as pathways 9 and 10 which look at advocacy and grassroots activism in favor of women´s rights respectively.

  • Engaging men and boys in promoting and supporting women's rights. 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 (including GBV).
  • Awareness raising. Making men aware of girls’ and women’s rights lies at the basis of any change. Apart from the above approaches that all include an element of awareness raising, approaches such as street theatre, messages during sport matches or other well-visited events, radio spots and debates, etc. are used to raise the awareness of the community at the large scale.

CARE expects this pathway to contribute to an improvement in Vulnerable Women’s social position in combination with the other pathways of Domain of Change 2. Therefore, impact is measured at the level of the Domain of Change (DoC) rather than at the level of this pathway. This pathway contributes to change on the following DoC-level indicators:

  • % men and women reporting meaningful participation of women in decision-making at the household level (woman’s own health care; making major household purchases; visits to her family or relatives)
  • % of women who have control over their own income (either independently or in joint decision making with husband)
  • In a pilot on engagement of men in Huye District, 30 couples were successfully trained using the ‘Journeys of Transformation’ model. One year later, they sustained their changed behavior. Reportedly, workloads are more equally divided within their households, couples live in more harmony and men´s support for their wives´ economic activities has led to increased household income (Source: Slegh et al., ‘I can do women’s work’, 2013).
  • After this successful pilot, the ISARO project scaled up the model in the six districts where the project is operating, to reach 2,310 couples by December 2013. Through training, exercises and discussions, they are reflecting on topics such as gender, GBV, family planning, economic empowerment of women, and especially the role of women in all this. In Nyanza District, the involved men also joined together to form a club and pass on their new experiences.
  • Members of the National Women’s Council and the National Youth Council have followed a training of trainers on the Journeys of Transformation approach. With the support of Rwamrec, they have started training couples.
  • CWASA project worked together with men with the objective to engage them in WASH activities, involving 2 men per village in the Musanze and Gashaki Sectors (Musanze District). The increased engagement of these men in WASH activities was observed to have a positive effect on their family members’ health situation.
  • Policy Advocacy and Learning Initiative (PALI)
  • Policy Engagement for Marginalized Inclusion (PEMI) Project
  • Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative (GLAI)
  • Results Initiative (RI)
  • Umugore Arumwa (Kinyarwanda for ‘A woman should be listened to’)
  • Higa Ubeho (Kinyarwanda for ‘Be determent and live’)
  • Isaro (Kinyarwanda for ‘pearl’)

CARE Rwanda is committed to learning, to continuously improve the relevance and quality of its work. In relation to this pathway, it poses itself the following questions:

  1. Does challenging cultural and social norms actually lead to sustainable changes in behavior? Experience so far suggests that it does, but more evidence is needed to help adapt our current approaches to make this link stronger.
  2. What are women’s and communities’ perspective on the new behavior of men, and how can we ensure that they support the change rather than challenge it?
  3. How can we best support trickle-down effects that contribute to wider change beyond the men and couples that CARE and our partners engage with directly? For example, what is the ideal number of couples per sector to be trained, in order to allow them to initiate change with others in a sustainable way?