The advancement of women is critical to good governance, social and economic development and an active civil society, and thus benefits men as well as women. Ending gender-based violence (GBV) is essential for women to take their rightful place in societies around the world. Engaging men in this process and challenging traditional masculinities is of the utmost importance for sustaining lasting behavioural change that will break the generational cycle of GBV and contribute to the overall advancement of gender equality. In the context of Rwanda, the case studies examined in this Briefing address both the theory behind ending GBV by involving men directly at the national and the village level, as well as the practical tactics used in the process of engagement and dialogue at the grassroots level.
This Briefing examines the recent approach of the Government of Rwanda and Rwandan civil society to involve men in gender equality initiatives. Specifically, it will review the progress being made and highlight the barriers encountered through two concise case studies. The first case study analyses the drafting and passing of the Law on the Prevention and Punishment of Gender-Based Violence (Republic of Rwanda, 2009), which involved significant male participation both at the community level and via male parliamentarians. The second case study looks at the work of the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC), which takes a grassroots approach to the sensitisation of men and women in civil society, in both rural and urban communities. These case studies highlight the progress made using targeted methods of engagement with male leaders both at the national and the village level, as well as persistent barriers to gender equality found in the attitudes of both women and men towards gender-based violence (GBV).