Let Girls Learn Grant Teaches Men & Boys about Gender Equality

Last month, we updated you about DFW’s $100,000 commitment to the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund in support of girls’ education. The Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Program helps adolescent girls around the world complete their education by removing the social and structural barriers that many girls face in accessing an education. We also provided information on GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camps and Clubs, one of the approved projects that will be funded through the DFW grant.

Our grant will also fund Men as Partners (MAP) projects, STEM Projects for Girls, and Business and Entrepreneurial Training for Girls. This month we discuss MAP projects.

Teaching men and boys about gender equality is an important component of Let Girls Learn and its goal of advancing educational opportunities for girls.  It is also important in shifting attitudes so that men become advocates for gender equality.

MAP projects include a variety of events and may take the form of week-long camps for boys, workshops and seminars for adult men motivated to learn about gender equality, or classroom trainings about specific issues, depending upon the needs of each community. Men are trained by local expert facilitators (health professionals, teachers, business people, etc.) on building alliances, empowering women and embracing gender-based discourse. Projects depend heavily on open dialogue and group discussions, but they may also include other activities such as field trips, skits, soccer and expression through dance.

One of the MAP projects is Boys Respecting Others (BRO) Camps and Clubs that teach young men about gender-related topics rarely addressed in schools. Inspired by GLOW Camps and Clubs, BRO camps and clubs focus on uniquely male issues and build the skills and capacity of young men to think critically about gender, sex and sexuality.

In BRO Camps and Clubs, boys learn about male identity, gender equality, expressing their emotions, self-esteem, communication, peer pressure and more, in addition to addressing topics such as malaria, HIV/Aids, substance abuse and nutrition. Through discussion groups and hands-on activities, boys focus on leadership skills, healthy lifestyle habits and the importance of gender equality. In some camps, boys from diverse backgrounds learn from each other and forge new friendships that cross cultural lines. Camps are designed to be fun, supportive, safe spaces. Each camp has activities and content tailored to the needs of the community in which it is held.

In many instances, participating Peace Corps volunteers host a regular boys club in their community, and BRO Camps were designed to complement those clubs. As with GLOW Camps and Clubs, boys who participate in BRO Camps bring enthusiasm, knowledge and skills developed at camp back to their local communities through the club programs, furthering the advancement of gender equality.

Each MAP project, whether a BRO Camp or a shorter workshop, aims to provide a gender lens through which men and boys can assess their own lives, by creating a safe space for participants to ask questions, share stories, and gain knowledge about various behavior changes proven to bolster gender equality – all of which support cultural shifts that further the ability of girls to attend school and stand on equal ground with their male peers.