HA NOI, 17 December 2012 – Promoting gender equality and ending violence against women and girls require a concerted effort to actively engage men and boys as partners and agents for change, according to a workshop organized today in Ha Noi by the United Nations in Viet Nam, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Viet Nam Farmers' Union.
New studies help understand the relationship between masculinities, gender discrimination and gender-based violence
In order to understand the relationship between masculinities, gender discrimination and gender-based violence in Viet Nam, UNFPA and UN Women, in partnership with Partners for Prevention (P4P) and Peace and Development (PyD), carried out three studies between 2011-2012. These clearly show that dominant male attitudes and behaviours continue to underpin and reinforce gender inequality and suggest that more needs to be done to engage men and boys in preventing violence and promoting a gender equitable society. The studies help reflect on the root causes of gender discrimination and gender-based violence.
Masculinity associated with toughness and dominance over women are a risk factor for violence against women
As men often develop such belief systems during adolescence, the study on Masculinities and Violence Against Women focused on exploring the attitudes and perceptions of male and female adolescents toward gender equity and masculinities. The study, which targeted secondary and high school male and female students in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh city, Da Nang city and Quang Nam province in 2011, shows that men are expected to look "manly", be decisive and confident, and never do "women's work", such as housework or childcare. When discussing the expectations of masculine personalities and behaviours, students supported stereotypes of men as decision-makers, tough and violent.
Another study on Gender, Masculinity and Son Preference in Nepal and Viet Nam, which surveyed men aged 18-49 in Hung Yen and Can Tho provinces in 2011, provides an understanding of the dimensions, nature and determinants of men's varying attitudes to son preference and gender-based violence. The study indicates that 26 per cent of men agreed that a woman deserved to be beaten and 90 per cent of men agreed that to be a man “you need to be tough”. The study found a high prevalence of violence against intimate partners among the men surveyed. About 60 per cent of men reported that they had used violence against their intimate partner at some point. Emotional and physical violence were the most common forms of violence in Viet Nam.
The study also found that preference for sons exists among the men surveyed. A high proportion of men agreed that sons are important to carry on the family lineage and for support in old age. The study suggests that there is a need for more comprehensive, long-term and male-targeted intervention programmes or campaigns at national and sub-national levels, taking into account men's specific socio-economic conditions. Because of the relationship between childhood experiences of inequalities, gender equitable attitudes and son preference, and intimate partner violence, early childhood interventions around masculinity and men's role in the family also stand out as a policy recommendation.
Teach the wife when she first arrives was the final study presented at the workshop. The study interviewed men and women in Ha Noi and Hue in 2011 to explore the connections between masculinities, gender and power. It demonstrates that violence is not necessarily socially acceptable in Viet Nam, although men’s control and authority over their wives is widely legitimized. The study suggests that there is a growing consensus that boys and men, together with girls and women, have an essential role to play in ending violence, both within their own relationships as well as in their larger communities.
Ending violence against women and girls cannot be successful without the participation of men and boys
"Discrimination and violence against women and girls anywhere in the world is a social ill and a human rights violation. It is unacceptable in any form and must be stopped. Men have a critical role to play in ending such a violation and upholding the rights of women and girls. Women alone cannot end domestic violence, it must be done in partnership with men," said Ms. Mandeep K. O'Brien, UNFPA Representative a.i in Viet Nam. She also added that strategies and programmes to prevent gender discrimination and violence against women and girls, whether narrowly or broadly focused, must engage men and boys.
In Viet Nam, there are many interventions and initiatives involving men and boys in the fight against domestic violence which show that well-designed and implemented interventions can change men’s attitudes and practices. It is critical, however, to move beyond these small-scale activities for men and boys to larger and more lasting social change across Viet Nam.