VAÖ Austria
Side Event – Shifting masculine norms to promote women’s economic empowerment Mon 22 Mar 9:00 – 10:30
OECD Development Centre, Austrian Development Cooperation
Women in power and decision-making, Women and the economy, Human rights of women, Education and training of women, Violence against women
SDG4 – Quality Education, SDG5 – Gender Equality, SDG8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG16 – Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Bullying (2016), Harassment (2016), Sexual Harassment in Workplace (2019)
Restrictive masculinity / gender norms can significantly impact women's lives, empowerment, gender equality. It is important that these social norms and practices are well recognised by the general public. The underlying perceptions and opinions in the public and private spheres matter in terms of gender equality and need to be understood and addressed.
Here in Austria, we can follow up with the Austrian Development Cooperation, one of the Side Event's sponsors.
– Main theme – 'Some masculinities stand in the way of women’s economic empowerment and must be urgently addressed'.

– The event launched the OECD Development Centre’s new publication, “Man Enough? Measuring Masculine Norms to Promote Women’s Empowerment”. This discusses the ways restrictive masculinities hamper women’s empowerment and emphasises the need for data to support gender-transformative policy making.

– The panel discussed the ways policy makers and NGOs can promote gender-equitable masculine norms. Speakers included Gary Barker of Promundo-US, an NGO with offices in Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and USA, that work to promote caring, non-violent and equitable masculinities and gender relations; Marlon Bascombe of CariMAN, the regional representative in the Caribbean of the MenEngage Global Alliance; Juanita Lopez, Colombia, who talked inter alia about the gender aspects of the Colombian National Development Plan and the programs established such as a Fund for Women, Families in Action. They gave excellent examples as to the issues, what must be achieved and what can be done: the need to work on gender relations, working with families, boys and girls, women and men: Breaking up the idea of the 'real man', 'get men to see their mistakenness' (G. Barker). Evidence shows that men with more egalitarian views are healthier and happier men. The importance of early childhood intervention was emphasised by the speaker from India. To build forward better and achieve a culture of equality, the right policies must be in place.
The Report gives various suggestions that can help change attitudes which hinder women's empowerment and equality. These are valid in all countries.

Awareness raising; support for data gathering / tracking the proposed indicators; evidenced based approach to policies promoting gender equality; need to address these issues in schools – schools must provide ownership, mainstreaming and safe surroundings, must have teachers on board, train them; early childhood interventions. Attitudes are formed in family and in education.

NFAs can advocate locally for the implementation of the suggestions in the report.

Author: Elisabeth Francis

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