Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women
Panel 1: Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls
Statement by the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana
Thank you, Mr. President,
RFSU Sweden delivers this statement on behalf of the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana.
As a grass-root organisation working in northern Ghana, we would like to say this loud and clear: Rigid gender norms have proven to having real and long-lasting impacts on the lives of all, hindering the development of respectful and equal relationships among women, girls, men and boys. Boys are made vulnerable by rigid norms related to manhood. Far too many boys approach adolescence having experienced violence, dropped out of school, had risky sex or practiced other risk-taking behaviours just because they believe they must do so in order to be seen by peers and communities as “real men”.
On the positive side, evidence shows that younger generations of men are more receptive to gender equality. They have seen their mothers and sisters attend school and participate in paid work, and they are more likely to view women as equals when compared to their fathers’ generation. Our experience, including a joint campaign with UNICEF Ghana: “Boys and Girls Against Child Marriage”, also shows that Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools can boost these positive developments and encourage a more open attitude of boys towards gender equality, non-discrimination and non-violence against women.
Our work in Ghana demonstrates the positive outcome of the meaningful participation of men and boys in gender equality programmes, particularly concerning their attitudes, perceptions and behaviours concerning health, sexuality and masculinities in their intimate and emotional relationships with women and girls, as well as with other men and boys.
Our question to the Panel is: how can local organisations effectively address hostile social and religious leaderships and engage them in the fight against harmful social and gender norms?