The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality in Brazil
In recent years, Brazil has made many positive strides forward in the area of gender equality. This notwithstanding, according to the Minister of the Secretariat on Policies for Women, Eleonora Menicucci, inequalities continue to exist due to the patriarchal mentality that shapes Brazilian society.João Peres, Rede Brasil Atual (13 April 2012). “Para ministra, “mentalidade patriarcal” atrapalha mulheres no mercado de trabalho” (Mister states the “patriarchal mentality” disrupts women’s involvement in the labour market”. Retrieved 20 October 2012. This situation raises the questions (i) as to what are the attitudes and practices of adult and younger men in Brazil, that is, whether, and, if so, to what extent, they adhere to more rigid views about Masculinities; and (ii) as to whether policy and other efforts in the country, concentrated on improving the status of women, have included due attention to the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality.
Table of Contents
- 1 Men’s attitudes and practices in Brazil
- 2 Commitments made by the Brazilian Government
- 3 Activities carried out by NGOs and networks
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
- 7 Feedback
Men’s attitudes and practices in Brazil
Substantial literature and statistics exist with respect to Brazil , including female-to-male ratios on levels of education and participation in the labour market, and rates of Domestic violence against women in Brazil .The primary source of such data is the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics, known as: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE). Literature and updated statistics on men’s attitudes and practices in Brazil, revealing levels of patriarchism and the extent of masculinities, are however limited.
A key document in this regard is a report on an “International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)”, prepared in 2011, by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Instituto Promundo ,Barker, G., Contreras, M., Heilman, B., Singh, A., Verma, R., Nascimento, M. (January 2011). “Evolving Men: Initial Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)”. Washington, D.C.: International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Promundo. Retrieved 19 October 2012. which discusses the results from a comprehensive household questionnaire in Brazil, amongst other countries, on men’s attitudes and practices on a wide variety of topics related to gender equality. Unless otherwise specified, the source of the information in this section is the said report and/or survey.
To measure men’s and women’s gender-related attitudes in Brazil, the survey included the Gender Equitable Men (GEM) Scale, a collection of attitude questions that has now been widely used in diverse settings and has consistently shown high rates of internal reliability.The Gender Equitable Men (GEM) Scale was originally developed by the Population Council and Instituto Promundo with young men aged 15-24 years. The original scale includes attitudinal statements about different dimension of men’s gender attitudes. The scale has since been validated in house-hold research in more than 15 countries. The results were as follows:
|Domain||Statement||Percentage of men who agree with statement|
|Gender||Woman’s most important role is to take care of her home & cook||54%|
|Changing diapers, giving kids a bath & feeding kids are mother’s responsibility||10%|
|A man should have the final word about decisions in his home||43%|
|Masculinities||To be a man, you need to be tough||44%|
|Violence||A woman should tolerate violence in order to keep her family together||4%|
|Sexuality||Men need sex more than women do||50%|
|Men don’t talk about sex, they just do it||49%|
|Men are always ready to have sex||54%|
|Reproductive Health||It is a woman’s responsibility to avoid getting pregnant||36%|
|I would be outraged if my wife asked me to use a condom||21%|
The vast majority of men in Brazil – 92% – said they are satisfied with the current, and highly unequal, division of household duties. Admittedly, women’s reports of satisfaction with the current division of domestic duties, at 77%, is not much lower.
Parenting and Men’s Exposure to Campaigns Related to Fatherhood
39% of the men interviewed stated they provided daily care for children; this contrasted with women’s perception, with only 10% reporting that their male partners provided daily care for children.
Whereas Brazil has a national policy supporting a woman’s right to have someone of their choice (presumably the father) present during childbirth, yet implementation has been far less than universal, with as many as 54% of men reporting they were not present for the birth of their child. Only 7% reported to have been in the delivery room, whilst 39% were elsewhere in hospital. Yet, Brazilian men are accompanying women to prenatal visits at a high rate of 78%. Although not stated in the report, the reasons for these numbers may be related to the fact that, in accordance with the 2009 statistics released by the Ministry of Health in Brazil, 43% of the pregnancies in Brazil are delivered by caesarean section (despite that only 15% are medically necessary).Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) (2 September 2009). “IBGE divulga Indicadores Demográficos e de Saúde”. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
Only 15% of the Brazilian men surveyed encountered a campaign promoting fathers’ involvement. 8% had participated in activity to promote fathers’ involvement.
Health Practices and Vulnerabilities
Research has affirmed that culturally dominant forms of Masculinities, which often urge men to practice strict emotional control and cultivate a sense of invulnerability, serve as barriers to health- and help-seeking behavior or encourage some men to engage in practices detrimental to their own health and that of their families. These health patterns have high costs for women, children, societies and men themselves. Men’s shorter lives mean less productivity and curtailed participation as caregivers and intimate partners. Men’s alcohol and substance abuse is a factor in men’s use of intimate partner violence.
In Brazil, men’s reports of regular abuse of alcohol, with 69% of the men confirming abuse, contrasts sharply to the number of women, 20%, confirming abuse of their own. Similarly, men had relatively low rates of HIV testing, consistently lower than women’s rates of testing, with only 35% of the men confirming that they had sought an HIV test, against a total of 65% for women.
Intimate partner violence
24% percent of the men in Brazil reported lifetime rates of using intimate partner violence (IPV). There were slightly higher rates of victimization, with 28% of the women interviewed affirming they were the victims of IPV.
With regards to knowledge and attitudes about policies and laws promoting gender equality and men’s exposure to messages and campaigns about violence against women (VAW), the following results emerged:
|Domain||Statement||Percentage of men who agree with statement|
|VAW Policies||Knows of VAW law in country||95%|
|Agrees: “There are times when a woman deserves to be beaten”||19%|
|Has ever perpetrated physical violence against partner||24%|
|VAW Campaigns||Ever encountered campaign questioning VAW||18%|
|Ever seen an advertisement questioning VAW||41%|
|Ever participated in an activity questioning other men’s use of VAW||4%|
Commitments made by the Brazilian Government
Recent commitments made by the Brazilian government would indicate that there is a growing awareness, on a political level, that efforts towards gender equality necessitate that attention is directed not only towards women but also towards men.
In 2003, Brazil hosted an expert group meeting organised by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), entitled “The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality”United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (2003). “The role of men and boys in achieving gender equality”. Based on Expert Group Meeting organized by DAW in collaboration with United NationsDP, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Gender Equality and United NationsAIDS from 21-24 October 2003 in Brazil. Retrieved 14 October 2012. and, in 2009, it hosted the Event:2009-03-29 Global Symposium: Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality (Rio, Gender Equality in Brazil), bringing together NGOs, policy makers and representatives from the private sector, in order to build, strengthen and expand a growing international network of programs, activists and policy makers dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality.
On a more domestic level, Brazil has implemented some policies of its own in order to engage men in gender equality:
Violence against women
Gender-based violence appears to be the policy issue that many men have heard about in Brazil (see above). Indeed, the promulgation of Law 11.340, known as the Maria da Penha law , in 2006, generated an unprecedented awareness about the grade of violence committed by Brazilian men in domestic settings (see: Domestic violence against women in Brazil ). But the question remains whether hitherto men are seen as the cause of this problem or also as part of the solution. In this regard, we may assert that the government has made some efforts to include men, including through:
- the promulgation of Law 11.489, in 2007, establishing 6 December as the National Day of Mobilization of Men to End Violence against Women (Dia Nacional de Mobilização dos Homens pelo Fim da Violência contra as Mulheres);JusBrazil. “Lei nº 11.489, de 20 de junho de 2007” (Law no. 11.489, of 20 June 2007). Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- the launch of the campaign “United Men for the End of Violence Against Women (Homens Unidos pelo fim da Violência contra as Mulheres)[“Homens Unidos pelo fim da Violência contra as Mulheres” http://homenspelofimdaviolencia.com.br/] – website. in 2008, as Brazil’s response to “UNiTE to End Violence against Women”, the UN’s world campaign to mobilize national leaders to end violence against women.United Nations. “About UNiTE”. Retrieved 21 October 2012. This represents the first time Brazil has focused a campaign on gender violence on men and, through the collection of signatures, it seeks to raise awareness about the importance of engaging men towards a more just and egalitarian society, the full implementation of the Maria da Penha Law and public policies aimed at ending violence against women; and
- a bill for the inclusion in the curriculum of basic education of content regarding violence against women and the prevention thereof, which would be available to boys as it would to girls.Homens pelo fim da violência contra as mulheres (21 September 2012). “Novos projetos aprovados no Senado”. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
Although all these initiatives represent a step in the right direction, it is noteworthy that there are no policy initiatives directed at those men who have committed violence against women.
Health, family planning and parenting
With regards to health issues, the Brazilian Government has sought to focus on men through:
- the federal government’s establishment of a National Policy for the Health of Men (Política Nacional de Atenção à Saúde do Homem),BRASIL.gov.br (Brazilian government website). “Política Nacional de Saúde do Homem” (National Policy for the Health of Men). Retrieved 14 October 2012. aimed at encouraging men to recur to medical health services.
With a view to help Brazilian society in family planning, the policy seeks to encourage any interested party to recur to a vasectomy by ensuring ease of access by men to the procedure and the possibility of surgery in a medical clinic, without the need for hospitalization.BRASIL.gov.br (Brazilian government website). “Vasectomia”. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
The policy also seeks to encourage men to participate in their female partner’s pregnancy consultations. Moreover, according to the policy, the obstetrician who meets the couple is required to invite the man to do some tests, including tests for hepatitis B and C, HIV, and syphilis, as well as blood tests to detect the presence or absence of diabetes and verify levels of cholesterol.BRASIL.gov.br (Brazilian government website). “Pré-natal masculino”. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
Whilst the above policy initiatives all point towards a stronger commitment on the part of the Brazilian government towards gender equality and towards the inclusion of men in family planning and life, Brazil may appear to fall short of its commitments in regards to paternity leave, with laws that provide men with just five days of paid leave (paid through national social security taxes).Article 7 of the Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988. See: Guia Trabalhista. “Férias e Licença-Paternidade” (Holidays and Paternity-leave). Retrieved 21 October 2012.
When assessing men’s attitudes and behaviour, it must be borne in mind that Brazil has a very unequal society. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the ways in which gender norms interact with income and education inequalities to create specific gendered vulnerabilities for men. Thus, statistics will usually reveal that men with higher income and educational levels tend to be more aware and involved in gender equality and have less rigid masculinities.See statistics from: Barker, G., Contreras, M., Heilman, B., Singh, A., Verma, R., Nascimento, M. (January 2011). “Evolving Men: Initial Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)”. Washington, D.C.: International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Promundo. Retrieved 19 October 2012. Under these premises, any effort on the part of the Brazilian Government to encourage men’s role in achieving gender equality would necessarily require further efforts to diminish general income and educational inequalities throughout the country.
Activities carried out by NGOs and networks
Whilst efforts by the Brazilian government to advance gender equality with a view to men’s role may be regarded by some as moderate, several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and networks operating in Brazil have endeavoured to include, and advocate the inclusion of, men and boys in achieving gender equality.
Former amongst these are:
- ECOS Comunicação em Sexualidade (São Paulo);
- Instituto PAPAI (Recife);
- Instituto Promundo (Rio de Janiero);
- Instituto NOOS (Rio de Janeiro);
- Pró-Mulher, Família e Cidadania (São Paulo);
- Rede de Homens pela Equidade de Gênero (RHEG) (Network of Men for Gender Equity).
Some programmes and campaigns that have been launched in Brazil include the following:
Laço Branco (White Ribbon),Laço Branco – official website. the Brazilian version of the White Ribbon Campaign,White Ribbon Campaign – official website. seeks to mobilize men and boys to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. Laço Branco has been active in Brazil since 1999, and is composed of Insituto PAPAI as the National Secretariat, Instituto Promundo, Instituto NOOS and Pro-Mulher, Família e Cidadania.
Machismo Não Combina com Saúde
Machismo Não Combina com Saúde (Machismo and Health Don’t Mix), was launched to encourage men’s participation in health services and to sensitize health professionals about the importance of working with men. The campaign is based on the premise that health services-related efforts with men should be grounded in understandings of how rigid norms of masculinities influence men’s health-seeking behaviours and their health risks. The campaign is an initiative of the Rede de Homens pela Equidade de Gênero (RHEG) and is coordinated by Instituto PAPAI and Núcleo de Pesquisas em Gênero e Masculinidades (Gema/UFPE).Instituto PAPAI. “Machismo e Saúde”. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
Dá licença, eu sou pai!
The national campaign Dá licença, eu sou pai! (Give leave, I am a Father!) was designed to encourage men to exercise the right as caretaker, soliciting a paternity leave in the birth or adoption of a child. The campaign also promotes public mobilization to seek the current paternity leave from five days to at least one month. This law is being circulated in the House of Representatives. The campaign is an initiative of the Rede de Homens pela Equidade de Gênero (RHEG), and is coordenated by Instituto PAPAI.Instituto PAPAI. “Dá Licença, eu sou pai!”. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
The Q homem (Q men) campaign is part of a strategy to engage men in initiatives for the promotion of gender equality and the prevention of violence against women under a collaborative project between Canada and Brazil, with the authorization of the Brazilian Agency of Cooperation (Agência Brasileira de Cooperação (ABC)). Organizations responsible for its implementation include Instituto Promundo, Instituto PAPAI, and the White Ribbon Campaign in Canada. One of the projects objectives is the propagation of a strategy of sensibilization of men about gender relations in the work place, reflecting specific recommendations from various studies developed by UN agencies and international specialists.Promundo. “Campanha Q homem”. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
In 1999, Instituto Promundo, together with ECOS Comunicação em Sexualidade, Instituto Papai, and Salud y Género ( Mexico ) – in collaboration with International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF, Western Hemisphere Region) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) – developed Instituto Promundo#Program H .Promundo. “Program H: Engaging young men in gender equality”. Retrieved 22 October 2012. With men as the main focus of the programme, the reference to “H” derives from the Portuguese, “homens“, and Spanish, “hombres“, which are the words for “men”.
Program H seeks to engage young men and their communities in critical reflections about rigid norms related to manhood. It includes group educational activities (see the Program H manual on activities with young men), Promundo. “Program H manual on activities with young men”. Retrieved 19 October 2012. community campaigns, and an innovative evaluation model, the GEM scale (see above), for assessing the programme’s impact on gender-related attitudes. After participating in Program H activities, young men have reported a number of positive changes, from higher rates of condom use and improved relationships with friends and sexual partners to greater acceptance of domestic work as men’s responsibility and lower rates of sexual harassment and violence against women.
In 2007, Program H was cited in United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report “50 Jeitos Brasileiros de Mudar o Mundo” (50 Brazilian Ways to Change the World)United Nations Development Program (UNDP) (2007). “50 Jeitos Brasileiros de Mudar o Mundo”. Retrieved 22 October 2012. and in a United NationsICEF (UNICEF) report on the State of the World’s Children.United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) (2006). “The State of the World’s Children 2007: Women and Children: The Double Dividend of Gender Equality”. Retrieved 22 October 2012. In 2008, the UNFPA recognized Program H as an effective strategy for engaging young men in the promotion of sexual and reproductive health in its State of the Population Report.
- Instituto Promundo
- Gender Equality
- Working with men and boys to advance gender equality