In the fight against gender-based violence, more attention is often paid to gendered misconceptions about women’s roles in society than men’s.
Yet, since violence against women is predominantly perpetrated by men, men’s engagement in combating it is crucial. Recognising this, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No. 210) states in its Article 12.4 that all members of society, especially men and boys, should be encouraged to contribute actively to preventing violence. They can be role models, act as agents for change and speak out to engage other men in dialogue and action. Identifying and putting an end to “harmful masculinities” is crucial to combating violence as a consequence of deeply rooted inequalities in power relations between women and men.
Many strategies can be used to maximise men’s engagement as partners against gender-based violence. To overcome the barriers of men’s resistance – often based on fear, negative cultural attitudes, or even pure lack of interest, as well as beliefs that violence against women is a “women’s issue” – men’s behaviour and mentalities must be addressed to make preventing gender-based violence matter to men.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine the different national approaches to engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and women’s rights, in order to prevent all forms of violence. Male parliamentarians should set an example in this regard. Priority areas should be defined, and member States encouraged to share and use experience and good practices to increase awareness and activate the participation of men and boys in preventing gender-based violence.