In Lebanon, young men are working towards gender equality, despite the fact that inequality between men and women is still a big issue there, as in many countries. Parental authority lies in the father, girls receive less inheritance than their brothers, and few women hold positions in the Lebanese government.
That’s changing, with the help of three organizations: Promundo, a non-profit organization targeting men and boys to promote gender equality, Womanity Foundation, an independent private agency dedicated to helping girls and women realize their full potential in life, and the ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality, an NGO in Lebanon. With the help of these institutions, young men themselves are advocating for gender equality in Lebanon.
The young men are taking part in Program H, a project launched in 2002 by Promundo and its partners mainly for men between the ages of 15 and 24 to engage them in conversations related to manhood. According to Promundo’s website, the program offers group activities on “gender, sexuality, reproductive health, fatherhood and caregiving, violence prevention, emotional health, drug use, and preventing and living with HIV and AIDS.” “We test and evaluate ways to engage men and boys in empowering women and girls, such as using sports, schools, and health clinics as entry points to transform harmful norms around what it means to be a man.”
The “H” stands for homens, or men, in Portuguese, and hombres in Spanish. The program is currently used in over 20 countries. It is “based on extensive research of young men in Brazil with more gender-equitable attitudes, which demonstrated that these attitudes were indicative of men who had a peer group supportive of gender equality, better personal experiences around gender equality, and more meaningful male role models.”
So what has Program H achieved? According to Promundo, “After participating in Program H activities, young men have reported many positive changes, from higher rates of condom use and improved relationships, to a greater willingness to take on domestic work, and lower rates of sexual harassment and violence against women. The results of eight, mostly quasi-experimental studies on Program H around the world have found evidence of positive changes among program participants: from more gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors generally, to improved couple communication, reduced gender-based violence, increased condom use, and improved attitudes around caregiving.”