Engaging Men and Boys
CREA works with women, girls, and transgender people to build their leadership and collective power to challenge social norms and transform unjust power structures.
We acknowledge the importance of working with men and boys to advance the goal of gender justice but as women, girls, and transgender people remain our primary constituency, our engagement with men and boys depends on the nature of an intervention.
Currently, we work with them namely in two ways:
- CREA conducts annual residential institutes called SGRIs (sexuality, gender and rights institutes) in English and Hindi. Men can apply to the SGRI Global and SGRI India–English. The SGRI India–Hindi continues to be open only to women and transwomen. This is because in our experience, the spaces and resources to discuss sexuality with women from grass-roots level organisations, in Hindi, are far rarer, and as such, an all-women institute is seen as less inhibiting and more comfortable.
- In our community based interventions, to ensure a more enabling environment for women and girls, we work with men through their involvement as parents, teachers, community leaders, etc.), who influence the lives of women and girls.
Historically, women and girls remain marginalised and discriminated against on the basis of their gender. CREA believes that as building movements of the affected is a key strategy towards achieving social change, they themselves must be at the front and centre of the struggle for gender equality. Men and boys can support and complement them but not be the ones to lead the movements. Therefore, the focus must remain on strengthening women’s movements and any engagement work with men must not divert resources, time and space away from this goal.
Increasingly, there is pressure on women’s organisations to work on men and masculinities, even when this work is not always relevant. Currently, in the work with men, there is an agreement on the “why,” but there is less consensus on the “how.” For us from a feminist perspective, “means” cannot be divorced from the “ends” and so we would rather not work with men from a perspective that is counterproductive to women’s rights. Therefore, we continue to use an “ecological” approach in the direct implementation of our community level interventions that involves men and boys as important actors in the lives of women and girls.
Alongside, we continue to follow the efforts of our partners in India, who share our gender and rights perspective, and are working directly with men and boys, to develop practices that are accountable to women’s rights movements.
Misra, Geeta and Marwah Vrinda; 2015; Reflections on Inclusion of Men in Women’s Rights Programmes; Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. L No. 13