Session Submission Summary

Direct link:

Gender transformative education a catalyst for the next generation of male advocates for gender equality.

Thu, March 14, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency Miami, Floor: Third Level, Foster 1

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


Gender socialization is the process by which people learn about gender roles and what it is expected for them to become, behave and define themselves. From the age of 3, educational spaces become the second most important space for gender socialization, after the home (Nugroho et al, 2023). The gender norms, attitudes and practices present in educational settings greatly influence childrens’ and adolescents’ development, gender identity as well as the stereotypes they hold (Jhon, et al 2027).

Over the past two decades, approaches to gender equality have brought forward gender-sensitive education and gender-responsive education, with the first recognising differences caused by gender inequality and the second actively addressing differences and reducing them (Plan, 2021). In this continuum of approaches, one step further lies Gender Transformative Education (GTE). GTE seeks to transform attitudes, stereotypes, norms and gender inequitable practices in educational systems, directly challenging unequal power relations and questioning harmful gender norms. In doing so, intergenerational patterns of harm, inequality and violence can be broken and young children and adolescents are given the opportunity to develop free from limiting gender roles and discriminatory stereotypes and unlock their true potential. GTE is inclusive, equitable, quality education that nurtures an environment of gender justice for children, adolescents and young people (Plan, 2021) and contributes towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 5.

Moreover, GTE considers patriarchal gender norms that sustain discrimination and oppression of girls and women, as well as its impacts on boys, their education and the masculinities that they are learning and practicing. Globally, research shows that boys are disengaging from education and there are now 132 million boys out of school (more than the 127 million girls who are out of school) (UNESCO, 2023). Harmful norms of masculinity have been linked to boy’s increasingly low levels of motivation in schools and placing them at higher risk of repeating grades, not learning and failing to progress and complete their education. Additionally, boys are facing high levels of school gender based violence, including corporal punishment and those who hold more gender inequitable attitudes are significantly more likely to both perpetrate and experience verbal, online and physical bullying (Heilman, Barker and Harrison, 2017).

The harmful masculinity norms that boys are learning and practicing at a young age also affect their future lives, health, gender equality and violence overall (Barker and Ricardo, 2005). Men who hold more rigid norms regarding gender and gender roles together with witnessing violence in the home when they were a child are significantly more likely (double) to use violence against their partners in their adult relationships (Heise, 2011, Heilman and Barker, 2022). Holding rigid gender norms are also the top causal factor of rape perpetration (Jewkes, 2012) and “proving manhood” is linked to men committing violent crimes and risk taking behaviour (Crowther-Dowey and Silvestri, 2017).

By understanding gender through a sociological perspective, boyhood and masculinity are concepts that are in continuous social construction. A recent study on boyhood in the United Kingdom found that what it means to be a boy was not static, but contested, moving, mutating and shifting (Equimundo, 2022). Boys and adolescents are active agents in making sense of gender norms and through GTE, important spaces for critical reflection and questioning of gender norms support boys’ efforts to resist harmful norms. Also, GTE that specifically considers boyhood focuses on building boys’ socio-emotional skills, specifically, the ability to manage and communicate their emotions in non violent ways, as well as their capacity to connect with others with empathy, tolerance and equality, and importantly, have the capacity to speak out against discrimination. As such, GTE can play a crucial role in cultivating a future generation of men who understand gender constructs, can see injustice and have the skills to advocate for gender equality through a relational, intentional and justice centered manhood (Almassi, 2022).

Nonetheless, gender norms are deeply entrenched in society and changing them and transforming educational systems is challenging, particularly as backlash against feminism and gender approaches in education spreads across contexts. Additionally, engaging boys in gender transformative interventions is difficult as interventions problematize and question male privilege and entitlement which can generate discomfort and rejection among many boys and adolescents, but also teachers and parents (Kato-Wallace, 2023, Keddie, 2021).

In this panel, we will present fundamental research and learnings from studying the commonalities and differences in the shifts of gender norms and related health outcomes of very young adolescent girls and boys following two gender transformative interventions conducted in urban educational settings in Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia. This will be followed by three presentations of gender transformative interventions implemented in Cambodia, Mexico and the United Kingdom and France. Each intervention was designed and implemented in different contexts (rural, urban, indigenous and migrant populations) but all aim to transform harmful gender norms and engage with boys, girls and other actors in the school ecosystem through a relational approach. Each presenter will share their model for the intervention, their results from pilot studies, challenges and lessons learned. Most importantly, all four panelists will discuss the implications of their interventions and key considerations for GTE in contributing towards building a future generation of male allies who advocate for gender equality.

Sub Unit


Individual Presentations