Role of Men in Gender Equality

Roleof Men in Gender Equality



Roleof Men in Gender Equality

Issues about genderhave been under investigation for a very long time since the works ofCharles Darwin and his evolution theory, years before introduction ofgender related studies. Darwin investigated and highlightedimportance of variability and differences, which authenticated studyof variations including behavior between the two genders and thedifferent treatments each, receive depending on how society viewthem. Gender is a term used in reference to roles, attributes, andbehaviors that are socially constructed and regarded to be for eitherthe men or women. It refers to the social distinction of variousaspects of life that are attributed to either men or womendifferently. It therefore defines social objects which societyconsiders being solely for women or men. Gender equality thereforefollows the assumption that men and women should receive sametreatment without discrimination, irrespective of their genders. Toachieve gender equality, both men and women should play an equal rolein the process. Even though men have a bigger role to play insupporting gender equality since the system favors them, there havebeen instances where women have been their own barriers towardsachieving gender equality. This study seeks to understand the role ofboth genders in the attainment of gender equality. In addition, thestudy will explore the masculinity and the breadwinner models tounderstand the dynamics of the concept (Cornell, 2005).

Balancedapproach towards men and gender equality

Theattainment of gender equality requires addressing both genders forsustainable change in the predominant existing imbalances. This isbecause both genders have distinct issue that affects their relationwith the opposite gender. Assumption that achievement of genderequity and equality solely lies with men will yield minimal results.According to Belghiti-Mahut et al (2012), men feel that theirsuperiority should be upheld in different aspects of life since thatis the way they found things operating, thereby fueling genderinequality. The concept of hegemonic masculinity is the issue thatconcerns such men. Hegemony is a cultural norm that tends to connectmen to economic and poor achievements, which seem adverse to theequality and inclusions.

Menhave a role in the achievement of gender inequality this includes bychanging their views and perceptions on masculinity. For a very longtime, men have been the sole breadwinners and thus the superiorgender due to the important role they played in the whole family setup. Once married, women abandoned their jobs and careers to take careof their families while men geared their efforts towards providingfor their families and taking care of their wives, they becamedependent on men for survival leading to their oppression (Connell,2005). Currently, that is no longer the case women are raisingfamilies single handedly without men support, and therefore menshould also embrace changes in the society in terms of how societyviews them and their primary roles. Men’s role should change frombreadwinners to caregivers. Through such changes, the concept ofmasculinity will gradually change from moving towards gender inequityand inequality to gender equity and equality.

Therehas been controversy surrounding the assumption that men have bettermental and physical abilities however, studies conducted to provewhether it is true or not have yielded different results. Hapern andLamay (2000) indicated there were difficulties in addressingacademic, social, and political differences of using intelligencetests as a measure of gender differences due to contradictory studiesall over. Downing et al (2008) when referring to works done byMaccoby and Jacklin found no significant differences in generalabilities and intelligence in the elementary years between the twogenders, however, they identified some differences in visual-spatial,verbal and mathematical reasoning in the onset of adolescence. Malesdemonstrated better mathematics and visual spatial ability whilefemales were better on verbal tasks such as reading, spellings, andpronunciation. Hapern and Lamay (2000) however found no genderdifferences in terms of overall intelligence. Critical reviews haveshown men and women to exhibit different cognitive abilities andskills. Kimura (1999) explained that whereas men out performed womenon some spatial tasks, however spatial ability women dominated womenin remembering task location and identifying which tasks had beenmoved from a prior location. The contradictions made it hard to bedefinite about cognitive abilities the two genders possess, leadingto the notion that no gender has superior cognitive abilities thanthe other, it all depends on exposure, choices, and preferences, andthus no gender should be treated as inferior to the other.

Changein the way either men and women are viewed by the society can besustained if men treat women as equal beings while women fight fortheir positions in the society without looking for help from men. Inthat way, hegemonic masculinity and cultural norms that tend toconsider men as superior would disappear. Through such changes,addressing of men as a homogenous group would cease and all peoplewould be addressed depending on their physical and mental abilities.The view that men and women have similar, yet diverse levels ofmental and physical abilities continue to dominate the subject ofgender equity and equality. The differences in academic capabilitiesand preferences between the two genders have been under considerationusing several methodologies. Some of these methodologies have beenhelpful while others are not. However, it is important to note thatall studies which have been aimed at understanding the genderdifferences are quasi experimental and not experimental. That makesit difficult to understand whether it was gender that led todifference in cognitive abilities or the numerous variablescorrelated with the gender.

Men have a majorrole in promoting gender equity and equality through elimination ofgender discrimination (Farré, 2012). Particularly, men have a rolein ending male discrimination of women based on their sex. When womenare discriminated based on their sex, the society views them asreproductive objects and thus their importance lies in procreationand nothing else. Male discrimination perspective should be rejectedand progressive aspects of embraced in the approach to genderequality. This can be achieved through adoption of the approach ofthe pro-feminist policies, and critical men policies, and examinegender equality policies. The adoption of these approaches can onlybe possible if men play an active role in the development ofideologies that fight against male-propagated discrimination againstwomen.

Recent developments have pointed on the fact that gender equalityalso entails the observation of the rights of men and not just thoseof women. However, the status of observing the rights of men andwomen is inclined in favor of women and not men. Issues to deal withaffirmative action have led to neglect of the boy child and if thetrend does not stop, in future, men will face the same challengeswomen are currently facing. Men should, play a role in theobservation of the rights of women, however, their rights to have agood life should not be overlooked (UNESCO, 2009). The attainment ofgender equality will translate to the observance of the rights ofall. In most cases, men’s rights approaches tend to underline onlycosts of masculinity and tend to describe them as a social group thatis discriminated because of feminist progress. However, the role ofthe feminist progress is to bring the status of women at par withthat of men, and not to overcome men. There should be a balancebetween the fight for women rights and observance of the rights ofmen. The rights can be achieved through adoption of pro-feministpolicies. The pro-feminist men`s policies and initiatives emphasizefacts that gender hierarchies may be harmful for both women and men(Farré, 2012). Most of the time, women are the most oppressed whilemen drift between cost and privileges of being representative of manydominant groups, the policies also affect men. Therefore, an optimalbalance between the two ends should be observed to avoid the negativeimpacts of extreme observance of pro-feminist policies at the expenseof the concerns of men.

Thehistory of fight for gender equality is quite illustrious. Forexample, in America, women began aggravating for their rights earliercompared to women from other countries. However, despite the Americanwomen acquiring the right to vote and make independent politicaldecisions, it took a very long time before both social and economicchanges could impact positively on the American woman. During the1960s, as other movements were fighting against segregation and otherforms of discrimination due to their race, women took advantage ofthe situation and began advocating for gender equality and the needto end discrimination in issues related to women and gender, sexoppression and exploitation issues were addressed within thesemovements. Women organized themselves together and throughassociation, women movements were born. The move however was notalways welcome particularly in the US where organizations were formedto counter feminism. The main problem was that women lacked both thepolitical and economic power to counter men. However, not all thesechallenges prevented women movements from achieving their goalsirrespective of the period it took. The journey towards women freedomin both countries cannot be underestimated. These women movementswere important in changing the way the society views women. Throughthese women, legislation of new laws supporting women goals wereachieved, there were been increased opportunities for women, equalityat the workplace, and families were proud of having two wage earners.This made the way society viewed a woman to change (Ryan, 2001).

Men,education, and gender equality

In the recent past, women have gained recognition in gender relatedissues especially in the education sector. There have been remarkableimprovements in the number of women joining education institutionsalthough there remains a huge difference between the two genders onthe issues related to economic and political power. Some careersremain male dominated and the issues of salary segregation based ongender are still rife. Gender socialization process in institutionswith emphasis on schools comparing how culture, socialization, anddevelopment can be compared between different countries in the world.There has been gender socialization analysis based on teacherinteractions and expectations on girls and boys, sex education, andwhat it lacks despite the changing gender roles everywhere in theworld. School environments contribute to conceptions aboutmasculinity and femininity, peer influences and their roles inproducing gender based ideologies. One of the areas of convergenceand optimal balance between the concerns of men and women is in thejob market. The job market is one of the areas where genderdiscrimination is prevalent thereby fueling gender inequality.Mostly, employers discriminately prefer men for positions that womencan handle. The discrimination in this case arises when men are hiredfor jobs that women that are more qualified are denied or locked outof (Eastin &amp Prakash, 2013), this becomes the hallmark of thefeatures that are divergent on the two genders as each seeks tobenefit from the limited labor opportunities. The convergence of thebasic labor market features between women and men would thereforestandardize the processes of equitably sharing such opportunities andwith observance to gender equality.

Theconvergence is evident due to the employment rate, whereby there isthe decrease in men`s employment rate as compared to women. Thedecrease in the percentage of men employed is because of an increasein the employment rate of women, which was not existent before(Eastin &amp Prakash, 2013). It is even more important that some ofthe employment opportunities that women are currently getting arepositions that were previously reserved for men. This means that theconvergence of the interests of both men and women in the job marketwill translate into recognition of the sense of equitable jobdistribution and gender equality.

Toachieve the economic benefits of gender equality, men have a role toplay in the creation of balance between the two genders. Genderinequality has consequences on the society, especially on theeconomic scene. This is because the economic crisis has a greatimpact towards men and their employment, especially when they are theonly breadwinners. At the same time, an economic crisis has a higherimpact on women because of cutbacks in many state services (Eastin &ampPrakash, 2013). If the two genders were treated, the same in thedistribution of economic resources and opportunities, women would notbe more dependent on men and the society would not be more dependenton each other.

Economictrends affect men and women differently. Therefore, gender equalitywould distribute the impacts of the economic trends of the society.For instance, men with young children tend to have higher employmentrates compared to those without families and children. Women withoutchildren are preferred to hold higher employment rates compared tothose with children: This is the direct opposite of the two gendersa difference that depicts a society dominated by gender inequalityand is based on perception that men with families are moreresponsible, while women with children are less reliable due tofamily responsibilities (UNESCO, 2009). It therefore leads to menbecoming the sole breadwinners of their families. In the past, it ledto development of aneconomic theory known as the male breadwinner model. The model shouldbe done away with as it continues to constrain women economically upto now. The male breadwinner model asserted that sexual division interms of labor was necessary this meant that men were producerswhile women were consumers. Men labor was overvalued than women andmen skills were viewed superior than women skills. This led totreatment of women as commodities and marriage became an economicinstitution (Lewis, 2001). Majority of views held by the malebreadwinner model still hold a strong place in modern economics withboth men and women contesting the issue. Based on the currentsettings where single mothers are supporting their familiessinglehandedly either because husbands have disappeared, windowed orjust by choice, their labor skills should be treated equally sincethey are playing similar societal roles as men. The assumption of menas the sole breadwinners is no longer applicable men and womenshould all be treated equally.

Menhave a critical role in educating the society on the need to changeperception and attitude towards women. This is because men have aninfluential position in the direction of public opinion and attitudetowards social, economic, and political issues (Belghiti-Mahut et al,2012). The main educational role that men should play is to shift theperception of the society regarding the primary role of a man. Themen’s attitude tends to shift from provider roles tocare-integrating models. This view should be adopted not only by thesociety, but also by educators and employers. However, many companiesand public, opinion leaders have remained rigid to change the viewsof men.

Men,care and gender equality

Menhave a role in the attainment of gender roles by being agents of careand service in the family and the society. By embracing service andcare to the society, the perception about men as masculinities willchange for the betterment of the gender equality (Connell, 2005).Recent studies have shown a complementary change in the role of menin the concept and practice of care in many parts of the world.According to Belghiti-Mahut et al (2012), the role of men ascaregivers in Europe has significantly changed over time this hasled to a change in the attitude of the society about gender roles.Taking roles previously held by women in the provision of careservices has led to the change in perception.

Forinstance, men’s share of housework and care varies negatively withincome but positively with education. The role in housework variesnegatively with income because as men earn more money, they find itinappropriate to work in the house (Davis et al, 2012). The more aman earns from his job, the more likely they are to hire a nanny orpeople to work in the house. In addition, they feel more superior towomen as they earn more money, thereby fueling gender inequality.However, there is a positive variance of men’s housework role ineducation. The relationship is because, as men gain more education,they understand the need for equal roles between the two genders. Asa result, an educated man is more likely to help his woman or wife inrunning of domestic chores compared to a less educated man.

Menhave a role in promoting gender equality through the embrace of careand provision of housework services. Men with gender equality beliefsand norms predominantly participate in the caring for children andhousework (Farré, 2012). There have been cases of men leaving theirjobs to take care of their families while their wives are working inthe offices if the woman’s job is better paying than the husbandsare. However, finding such a man is rare but they exist.On theother hand, men with traditional expectations of divisions of unpaidand paid work between women and men tend to show low participationrates. From this variation, it is clear that education is importantto change the beliefs of men in regard to their roles in theprovision of care. This explains why young and educated men arelikely to share gender-equality expectations and norms, which alwayslead to higher participation in caring for children and housework.When shopping, an educated man is likely to buy all required foods toprovide his family with a balanced healthy meal compared to lesseducated men who view it as a role of women to buy food for theirfamilies.

Men,violence, and gender equality

The prevalence of gender violence is perhaps the most extreme form ofsuppression of women that fuels gender inequality. According to Flood(2011), this is because men commit the majority of violent actionstowards women through various forms of infliction of pain. The formscommonly used to inflict violence are psychological, sexual, andphysical perspectives. Therefore, men have a role of ending genderviolence in the society by embracing respect for women. According toPeacock and Levack (2004), men should embrace approaches ofcompromise and non-violent ways of solving issues when dealing withwomen. By developing the compromise approaches, men will avoid theuse of violence as a tool of promoting their masculinity in thesociety. Violence falls under the gender behavior that addresses thegender-based violence that causes structural inequality and theimbalance of power between men and women in the society (Flood,2011). As a result, levels of inequality reach extreme levels thataffect the respect for women as members of the society. Men shouldstop treating women as children, even most children nowadays are notpunished through corporal punishment, and therefore, women should notbe treated any lesser.

Men,health and gender equality

Thereis gender inequality between men and women in terms of health statusof each gender. According to Belghiti-Mahut et al (2012), the lifeexpectancy of women tends to be higher than that of men, with 77.6years for men and 82.5 years for females. The inequality can beattributed to increased work and responsibilities to women, inaddition to their maternal roles of giving life and caring for youngones (Moss, 2002). This calls for an active role of men in thedevelopment of strategies to promote provision of health services towomen. Women, especially in less developed economies are more likelyto lose their lives in case they cannot afford to give birth in ahospital or the man does not see the need of giving birth in ahospital.

Therole of men in the society should change to reflect equity todistribute the efforts of women and men equally. This is because thehealth of each of the gender will be affected negatively if they workmore than the others (Davis et al, 2012). Therefore, the role of mencan also be extended to be caregivers for women by being therewhenever they face health challenges.


Bothmen and women share equal responsibilities in ending genderinequality and promoting equity and equality between the two genders.This is because, although most issues tend to support men, women playa role in supporting such issues. The assumption that men havesuperior cognitive abilities than women is untrue since cognitiveabilities were proved to all depend on the environment, exposure andthe used variables. To promote gender equality, discrimination at thework place should end and more women should enroll in educationinstitutions to gain similar skills like men to be able to doanything men can do and thus reduce chances of being discriminatedbecause of gender but on the perception of lack of skills. Educationof both men and women is essential in promoting gender equality,through the study highly educated men were more likely to help theirwomen in running of domestic chores compared to less educated men whoviewed domestic chores as women roles. Men should adopt balancedapproaches towards the understanding of gender issues, genderequality, and masculinity. Through the provision of care and learningabout balancing resource distribution, men will play a significantrole in the attainment of gender equality. Moreover, promotion ofequal decision-making roles and sharing of care and houseworkresponsibilities will positively influence men to embrace their rolein promoting gender equality. Men are more significant in the questto attain and sustain gender equality through the role that theyshould play in health, care, ending violence and education.


Belghiti-Mahut, S.,Bergmann, N., Gartner, M., Hearn, J., Hotler, O., &amp Wojnicka K.(2012).

The Role of Men inGender Equality – European strategies &amp insights.Prepared for European Commission, DG Justice – Unit D2 Genderequality. Contract ref. no. VC/2010/0592

Connell, R. (2005).Change among the gatekeepers: men, masculinities, and gender equalityin

the global arena. Signs:Journal of women in and culture and society30(3): 1801-1824.

Davis, J., Luchters, S. &ampHolmes, W. (2012) Men and maternal and newborn health: benefits,

harms, challenges andpotential strategies for engaging men, Compass:Women`s and Children`s Health Knowledge Hub.Melbourne, Australia.

Downing, K., Chan,S., Kwong, T.S, &amp Lam, T.F. (2008). Measuring gender differencesin

Cognitive functioning. Multicultural Education &amp TechnologyJournal Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 4-18. London: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Eastin, J., &ampPrakash, A. (2013). Economic Development And Gender Equality: Isthere a gender

Kuznets curve? WorldPolitics, 65(01),156-186. Cambridge University Press.

Farré, L. (2012).Therole of men for gender equality.New York: Barons Press.

Flood, M. (2011).Involving men in efforts to end violence against women. Menand Masculinities 14(2) 358-377.

Kimura, D. (1999). Sexand cognition. Massachusetts: MITPress.

Lewis,J. (2001). The Decline of the Male Breadwinner Model: Implicationsfor Work and Care. Thejournal of social politics. 8(2):152-169.

Moss, N. E. (2002).Gender Equity And Socioeconomic Inequality: a framework for the&nbsppatterning of women`s health. SocialScience &amp Medicine, 54(5),649-661. New York: Elsevier.

Neyer, G., Lappegård,T., &amp Vignoli, D. (2013). Gender Equality and Fertility: Whichequality &nbspmatters? EuropeanJournal of Population, 29(3),245-272. Springer

Peacock, D. &amp Levack(2004). The men as partners program in South Africa: reaching men toend gender-based violence and promote sexual and reproductive health.International Journal of Men`s Health3(3): 173-188.

Ryan, B. (2001) Identity Politics in the Women`s Movement. NewYork: New York University Press.

UNESCO (2009) Role of Menand Boys in Promoting Gender Equality. UNESCOadvocacy brief.

Related Posts

© All Right Reserved