Concern aims to significantly reduce inequalities and empower people living in extreme poverty to improve their lives. We focus specifically on gender equality, which is globally the most common form of inequality and remains a major obstacle to the eradication of poverty.
Gender equality: at the heart of our strategy
Across the world, so many women and girls still do not have access to or control over resources and services, they live in fear of gender-based violence (GBV), are denied education and have no say over decisions in their homes. Gender equality forms a major pillar of Concern’s equality strategy 2016 to 2020, and is a key area of focus for all programmes in livelihoods, health and education. And we are seeing an impact. As Juma, a male participant our livelihood programme in Tanzania, told us:
We started to realise that a lot of roles in the home can be done by anybody. By sharing these we can see the changes on the welfare of the family and how women are treated.
Gender sensitive to gender transformative
Every programme that Concern implements is “gender sensitive” – meaning it identifies and takes into account the different needs, abilities, and opportunities of girls, boys, women and men. Our ultimate aim, however, is to move from “gender-sensitive” to “gender-transformative” on all programmes. This means working with communities to develop programmes that transform the root causes of gender inequality at many layers of society – from the individual to the institutional and national.
Focusing solely on empowering women and educating them on their rights has limited results. A female participant in one of our previous livelihood programmes in Tanzania powerfully illustrated this point:
The greatest barriers we face to improving our lives are our husbands. I know my rights but they don’t apply in my home. When I come home, I leave my rights at the door.
Our research and work on the ground has proven that equality will never be achieved if men are not engaged, consulted and trained as allies and ambassadors.
Concern’s “Engaging men” projects – implemented across nine countries from Sierra Leone to Lebanon – are a crucial aspect of our work on gender equality. Generally carried out by community-based NGOs with the support of Concern, these projects provide counselling, health promotion activities and create a safe space for couples or single sex groups to discuss issues related to equality, asking questions like: What does it mean to be a man or woman? How do our expectations cause harm to those around us and ourselves?
Conflict and gender equality
These programmes are proving particularly essential in communities that have been affected by conflict, such as Syrians in Lebanon. The stress and pain of fleeing from conflict and coping with a hugely altered new reality can lead to negative coping mechanisms. Our engaging men programmes offer both men and women an outlet to process the emotional trauma.
In parallel with this work, our teams also engage on gender equality issues with community leaders and with the wider community through campaigns to drive for change at a wider level.
Engaging with men doesn’t mean that women lose out. Based on Concern’s positive results using the approach in Tanzania and Sierra Leone, we believe that engaging men is an essential element of women’s empowerment, so that benefits are brought to children, women and men themselves.
- Evaluation – Engaging men in Sierra Leone
- Evaluation – Promising practices on engaging men in Tanzania
- Knowledge matters 16 – The journey towards addressing gender equality
- Knowledge matters 8 – Gender equality
- DSA paper – Engaging Men on Gender Equality in Concern Tanzania’s Women’s empowerment programme
- Promundo report – Theories and Promising Practices on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality
- BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development)
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)
- European Union
- Irish Aid
- Newman's Own Foundation
- Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
- The British Commonwealth
- UK Department for International Development (DFID)
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Accountability is woven into the fabric of all Concern programmes. Learn more about our accountability and transparency procedures and processes, and read our annual report.