Engaging men and boys, from early childhood on, crucial to end cycle of violence against women and girls

On the occasion of the Panel Discussion “Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls” at the UN Human Rights Council, Defence for Children International joined a statement delivered by Plan International on the necessity to engage boys and men, from early childhood on, and promote gender-transformative actions to effectively end gender inequality and violence against women and girls. DCI and Plan International work together in the Girls Advocacy Alliance to shape policy change for girls’ rights and gender equality.

Please find the statement below

Thank you Mr. President,

This statement is delivered by Plan International, in collaboration with Defence for Children International, ECPAT International and Terre des Hommes International Federation, who are working together in the Girls Advocacy Alliance[1] to affect policy change for girls’ rights and gender equality.

We welcome today’s discussion, and believe that it represents a positive shift towards seeing men and boys as advocates of positive change.

Stemming from patriarchal structures and norms, the perpetuation of gender-based violence is intergenerational. Breaking this cycle requires changing these patriarchal structures and challenging notions of masculinity that value violent behaviour and sexual dominance.

Research done by Plan International has shown that many adolescent boys believe that being violent is part of a man’s nature. It is these norms that must be challenged if we are to break the cycle of violence.

Meaningfully engaging boys and men in reframing healthy and non-violent definitions of masculinity has benefits for all, both men and women.

We would like to highlight two elements that we believe are particularly important:

  1. First, it is critical to work with boys and girls from early childhood to create positive and healthy relationships from the start, when stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes are being internalised.
  2. Second, we need to be gender transformative and challenge the social and cultural norms and practices that perpetuate inequality in all its forms.


In light of these comments, we recommend that States:

  • Ensure that curricula are gender-transformative, starting in early childhood and continuing through the educational programme, as well as incorporate gender training into teacher education;
  • Incorporate comprehensive sexuality education into school curricula for both children and adolescents, including information on gender equality, violence and sexual abuse;
  • In consultation with girls and women, ensure that all policies developed to address violence against women and girls are gender-transformative and address root causes of violence and discrimination.

Thank you, Mr. President.

[1] Plan International, Defence for Children International, ECPAT International, and Terre des Hommes International are implementing partners in the Girls Advocacy Alliance, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

Download the statement as PDF


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