Issue 6: Male Involvement and Masculinity

Author: UNFPA

Publisher: UNFPA


  • Para 50. All leaders at all levels, as well as parents and educators, should promote positive male role models that facilitate boys to become gender-sensitive adults and enable men to support, promote and respect women’s sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, recognizing the inherent dignity of all human beings. Men should take responsibility for their own reproductive and sexual behaviour and health. Research should be undertaken on men’s sexuality, their masculinity and their reproductive behaviour.


  • 4.11. The design of family health and other development interventions should take better account of the demands on women's time from the responsibilities of child-rearing, household work and income-generating activities. Male responsibilities should be emphasized with respect to child-rearing and housework. Greater investments should be made in appropriate measures to lessen the daily burden of domestic responsibilities, the greatest share of which falls on women.

  • 4.24. Changes in both men's and women's knowledge, attitudes and behaviour are necessary conditions for achieving the harmonious partnership of men and women. Men play a key role in bringing about gender equality since, in most societies, men exercise preponderant power in nearly every sphere of life, ranging from personal decisions regarding the size of families to the policy and programme decisions taken at all levels of Government. It is essential to improve communication between men and women on issues of sexuality and reproductive health, and the understanding of their joint responsibilities, so that men and women are equal partners in public and private life.

  • 4.25. The objective is to promote gender equality in all spheres of life, including family and community life, and to encourage and enable men to take responsibility for their sexual and reproductive behaviour and their social and family roles.

  • 4.26. The equal participation of women and men in all areas of family and household responsibilities, including family planning, child-rearing and housework, should be promoted and encouraged by Governments. This should be pursued by means of information, education, communication, employment legislation and by fostering an economically enabling environment, such as family leave for men and women so that they may have more choice regarding the balance of their domestic and public responsibilities.

  • 4.27. Special efforts should be made to emphasize men's shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood, sexual and reproductive behaviour, including family planning; prenatal, maternal and child health; prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; prevention of unwanted and high-risk pregnancies; shared control and contribution to family income, children's education, health and nutrition; and recognition and promotion of the equal value of children of both sexes. Male responsibilities in family life must be included in the education of children from the earliest ages. Special emphasis should be placed on the prevention of violence against women and children.

  • 7.34. Human sexuality and gender relations are closely interrelated and together affect the ability of men and women to achieve and maintain sexual health and manage their reproductive lives. Equal relationships between men and women in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the physical integrity of the human body, require mutual respect and willingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of sexual behaviour. Responsible sexual behaviour, sensitivity and equity in gender relations, particularly when instilled during the formative years, enhance and promote respectful and harmonious partnerships between men and women.

  • 7.37. Support should be given to integral sexual education and services for young people, with the support and guidance of their parents and in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that stress responsibility of males for their own sexual health and fertility and that help them exercise those responsibilities. Educational efforts should begin within the family unit, in the community and in the schools at an appropriate age, but must also reach adults, in particular men, through non-formal education and a variety of community-based efforts.

FWCW, Beijing, 1995

  • 107(c). Encourage men to share equally in child care and household work and to provide their share of financial support for their families, even if they do not live with them;

  • 108 (e). …facilitate promotion of programmes to educate and enable men to assume their responsibilities to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases;

  • 108(l). Design specific programmes for men of all ages and male adolescents, recognizing the parental roles referred to in paragraph 107 (e) above, aimed at providing complete and accurate information on safe and responsible sexual and reproductive behaviour…

Beijing +5

  • 47. The changing context of gender relations, as well as the discussion on gender equality, has led to an increased reassessment of gender roles. This has further encouraged a discussion on the roles and responsibilities of women and men working together towards gender equality and the need for changing those stereotypical and traditional roles that limit women’s full potential. There is a need for balanced participation between women and men in remunerated and unremunerated work.

  • 72 (l). Design and implement programmes to encourage and enable men to adopt safe and responsible sexual and reproductive behaviour…

World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, 1995

  • Commitment 5 (g). Promote equal partnership between women and men in family and community life and society, emphasize the shared responsibility of men and women in the care of children and support for older family members, and emphasize men's shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood and responsible sexual and reproductive behaviour;

World Summit for Social Development +5

  • 80(g). Promoting programmes to enable women and men to reconcile their work and family responsibilities and to encourage men to share equally with women household and child care responsibilities.


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