Involve Men to Prevent Violence Against Women

Article Date

15 April 2010

Article Author

By Gillian Gaynair

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

Challenging traditional ideas about what it means to be a man can prevent violence against women worldwide, according to Gary Barker of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).

“Violence against women is a gross violation of human rights and a threat to a woman’s health and well-being,” Barker, ICRW’s director of gender, violence and rights, told the U.S. House of Representatives Human Rights Commission on April 15. “We must acknowledge that men’s use of violence against women is, in much of the world, rooted in women’s limited social and economic power.”

Barker’s testimony came two months after the U.S. Congress reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). The legislation, in part, underscores the importance of working with men and using research evidence in efforts to curb violence worldwide.

Global research shows that one in three women faces physical or sexual violence at some point in her life. However, decades of analysis by ICRW proves there are solutions that can reverse this trend, including engaging men and boys as partners, rather than as perpetrators of violence.

In his testimony, Barker explained to the commission that ending violence against women requires more than a legal response. Instead, it demands complementary efforts that promote more equitable relationships between women and men and that address societal notions around manhood.

“We have to teach boys that being a man really means respecting women and accepting them as equals,” Barker said. “Research suggests that well-designed group education with boys and men, particularly when combined with community outreach and mass media and communication strategies, can help change men’s attitudes about violence against women.”

Gillian Gaynair is ICRW’s writer/editor.