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Man Made: men, masculinities and equality in public policy

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Man Made: men, masculinities and equality in public policy. About the Coalition on Men and Boys Background to the report Main findings Key messages Fathers - making the policy connections. Background to the report. Aims

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man made men masculinities and equality in public policy
Man Made: men, masculinities and equality in public policy
  • About the Coalition on Men and Boys
  • Background to the report
  • Main findings
  • Key messages
  • Fathers - making the policy connections
background to the report
Background to the report

Aims

  • Explore the problems that men and boys experience and the problems they create
  • Identify how policy and legislation in England and Wales can impede or promote progress towards gender equality
  • Outline practical proposals for reform

Methodology

Funding

  • Support from Government Equalities Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission
main findings
Main findings
  • Public policies concerning men and boys tend to be reactive, resulting in parallel policies that fail to address sufficiently the relations between men and women, or between different groups of men
  • Interrelationships between various equality strands, and their impact on women, children and other men, must be taken more fully into account in policy development
  • Specific policy areas need to be ‘joined up’ more coherently
  • Many mainstream government policies tend to be shaped, either explicitly, or more often implicitly, around traditional notions of masculinity as the ‘norm’
  • Many services (e.g. in relation to health, social care, child welfare) are largely geared towards women, both supporting - but also entrenching - their roles as primary carers.
key messages
Key messages

1. Men and boys face problems and they create problems. Public policy must respond urgently if the lives of men, women, boys and girls are to be improved and greater equality achieved. The Gender Equality Duty provides a framework for government and other public sector organisations to do this.

2. Men are not a homogenous group. More sophisticated public debate and policy responses are needed that go beyond stereotypes of men either as oppressors or victims, ‘in control’ or ‘in crisis’.

3. Male participation in achievingchange is vital. Whilst some men show little or no desire to give up any privileges they hold, not all resist change. Many are realising thatmaintaining the status quo has negative consequences for their health, personal lives and qualityof life – and for other men, women and children.

making the connections or not
Making the connections or not?
  • Fathers as a case study
  • Policies on father involvement and policies on violence
  • Policies on work/family balance and father involvement
  • Father involvement and policies in relation to young men
specific policy issues 1
Specific policy issues (1)

Work:

  • Increases in unemployment for both men and women, with job losses in sectors where men predominate (eg. manufacturing and construction) alongside retail and service sectors where more women than men work

Fathers:

  • Positive rhetorical tone on involving fathers in the care of children, but concrete policy measures have not gone far enough

Health:

  • Policy-makers and practitioners increasingly aware of men’s reluctance to seek medical help and treatment, and of the importance of improving their access to information and services.
  • Overall approach fragmentary, concentrating more on some health issues (e.g. cancer, sexual health, suicide) and less on others (e.g. cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes).
specific policy issues 2
Specific policy issues (2)

Education:

  • Attention to tackling the differences in attainment between boys and girls, but social class differences far greater
  • Approaches to boys’ education have centred on improving educational practice generally, and promoting some ‘boy-friendly’ teaching strategies
  • Attempts to shift the prevailing culture of ‘laddish’ masculinity and anti-school peer group attitudes less developed.

Violence

  • Increasing social control and punishment (particularly of working-class men) - huge growth in the use of incarceration
  • Less engagement with the gendered nature of violence (including pornography, prostitution and child sexual abuse) and the interrelationship with how masculinities are constructed.
  • Government action uncoordinated and lacks a coherent vision. But proposals to challenge male demand for sexual services (and/or criminalising their use of them)
understanding masculinities
Understanding masculinities
  • Men’s and women’s lives, and gender relations, change over time, across cultures and within particular societies
  • Invisibility of ‘gender’ – most men unaware of their privileges as men (eg. higher incomes, care and services from women)
  • Commonalities and differences between different groups of men (according to class, race, age, disability, faith and sexual orientation), and dynamic relations between them (‘masculinities’)
general recommendations 10
General recommendations (10

Developing the policy framework

  • ‘Joining-up’ policies and focussing on gender relations, rather than targeting separate and parallel strategies at women and men
  • In line with the Gender Equality Duty, policy and programmes should address the specific needs of men and boys, where they differ from those of women and girls

Involving Men

  • Men with senior positions within government, business, trade unions, and NGOs should provide high-profile and proactive support for gender equality measures, and encourage other men to play their part

Sharing good practice in working with men and boys

  • Establish clear criteria for identifying effective practice in working with men and boys, and encourage cross-sectoral links and sharing of good practice
  • Increase training opportunities for professionals (including teachers, social workers, youth workers, counsellors, health workers)
general recommendations 2
General recommendations (2)

Improving data collection

  •  Official statistics should be routinely disaggregated by gender and gaps addressed

Furthering the research agenda

  •  The development of policy should draw more extensively on the substantial body of academic research, both in the UK and in Europe
  •  Map mainstream and specialist services working with men across a range of sectors
  • Improve the number and quality of evaluations of project work
  • Address the impact of different cultural contexts across UK countries

Increasing Funding

  • Policy-makers and funders should seek to devote increased resources to innovative projects working with men and boys - but not at the expense of projects to support women and girls
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