The Masculinization of Gender Equality: How Efforts to Engage Men May “Throw Women’s Emancipation Overboard”

  • Iris van HuisEmail author
  • Cliff Leek


Involving men in gender equality is a complicated task. Many men do not recognize the possibility of having more equitable lives with women and people of other genders, or they may feel threatened by the idea of losing privilege (Connell, 2005; Connell, 2010). Despite these difficulties, there have been efforts to involve men in gender equality through work being done internationally, by large non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations (UN), and locally, in projects funded by NGOs in civil society. One of the most common strategies to involve men is to make gender equality about the men themselves: by masculinizing gender equality, or “men-streaming” gender equality (Chant & Gutmann, 2002). This paper demonstrates the masculinization of gender equality efforts both in local efforts and at the level of international development discourse. We illustrate this shift with evidence from content analysis, interviews with involved professionals, and participant observations, showing a need for awareness of mechanisms that fade the goal of gender equality and for strategies that keep women and girls as beneficiaries of gender equality interventions.


Gender equality International development Interventions Masculinization Strategies 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Social Science, Faculty of social and Behavioural sciencesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Assistant Professor in SociologyUniversity of Northern ColoradoGreeleyUSA

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