Program H and Program M were born out of a belief that changing rigid, inequitable, homophobic and violent versions of what it means to be a man are key to achieving health, achieving women’s and girls’ empowerment and central to social justice efforts. When the authors started the partnership in Brazil and Mexico more than ten years ago, there were relatively few processes or materials perspectives outside of North America and Europe that put masculinities, gender norms and power relations at the heart of the approach. Ten years and some ten impact evaluation studies and more than 20 adaptations later, the authors are even more convinced that changing gender norms and the practices of individuals, and doing so in a collective, community-based approach can and does work.
The changes the authors have seen and measured are individual and collective, and sustained when community partners – schools, parents, coaches, health workers and others – are part of the process and contribute to the questioning of inequitable and harmful ideas about being men and women. This Toolkit presents the short version of the approach contained in Programs H and M. It seeks to make the model accessible so that an increasing number of teachers, facilitators, youth workers, coaches and health workers have the means to become gender equality activists – engaging young people to achieve lives free of inequalities, discrimination and violence, and with full access to and knowledge about sexual health and other health services. This Toolkit maintains sexual diversity, represented by “D,” as a central part of approaches and achieving gender equity. The authors dedicate these materials to the young women and men, teachers and community-based facilitators who have worked with them over the years, who are co-authors of this approach and who inspire them daily in their common cause of non-violence and gender justice.