Examining Masculinities to Inform Gender-Transformative Violence Prevention Programs: Qualitative Findings From Rakai, Uganda

External Resource

25/01/2022 12:00 pm

Global Health: Science and Practise

This article is published by GHSP Journal and is available online here.


Introduction: Evidence-based programs are needed to engage men and boys that encourage the transformation of concepts of masculinity that uphold patterns of intimate partner violence (IPV). This study explores the constructs of masculinity and male gender norms surrounding sexual attitudes and IPV among men and boys living in Rakai, Uganda.

Methods: Between April and August 2017, we conducted 38 interviews and 5 focus group discussions with men and boys aged 15 to 49 years and 4 focus groups with key stakeholders to understand how male use of violence is influenced by personal, community, and society-level concepts of masculinity. We adapted 2 constructs of masculinities, reputation and respectability, in the analysis to examine masculinities in relation to IPV in the rural Ugandan setting.

Results: Findings suggest men and boys upheld 2 types of masculinities: respectability versus reputation. Masculine attributes related to respectability (referred to as “responsible men”) included having a job, house, wife, and many children and taking care of family. Masculine attributes related to reputation (referred to as “cool men”) included having sexual prowess, multiple sexual partners, and the resources to buy nice things. Both masculine norms were used to justify dominance over women and IPV. The divergence of masculinity was observed among youth and young adults who participated in a gender-transformative program, suggesting the effectiveness of the program.

Discussion: The gender-transformative approach should provide men and boys a chance to reflect on dynamic, often conflicting, images of a man and should empower individuals to renegotiate and reconceptualise masculine norms. This critical reflection on masculinity, which resonates with men and boys, needs to be included when engaging men within HIV and IPV prevention programs.