"You'll always find one man, in every village, who is living life differently, helping out at home and doing the chores and helping his wife and not being violent,” Bernadette Crawford, Equality Advisor for Concern, explains.
“They're jeered at, and laughed at, by other men particularly and I always ask them ‘why?’”
In the vast majority of cases, it has come down through the generations.
"It's either one of two situations,” she says. “It's either that a man saw his father behave in a positive way, and the love and the affection that they gave their mother and the family (is carried on), or in other cases (the fathers) were extremely violent and led their lives through a very rigid form of masculinity.
"The impact of fathers is massive."
Changing long established views of the respective roles held by men and women is a long-term process and can be a challenge.
Life can be tough for those men who believe in equality with their spouses and in the home; they can even face situations where their masculinity is called into question by those people who are used to gender norms being defined in a different way.
"It isn't just men, it's women, because people are socialised in that context to believe men and women have specific roles,” Bernadette adds.
“So other women, equally, because they've been brought up to (believe men have a very specific role to play), they think the guy who is doing it that way isn't a real man and can be called a 'sissy boy' or all kinds of names.
“That’s why it’s important to work with women as well as men, as women often also carry those rigid social norms.”
Removing the need to conform to male stereotypes came as a huge relief to men in the programme.
"There was one guy in a country where Concern used to work, who spoke about how he was literally relieved - like a weight had been lifted - that he didn't have to perform in a certain way any longer,” Bernadette says.
"He didn't have to be the man that leaves the house and doesn't come back until ten o'clock at night, he doesn't have to be the man that does nothing in the house, and he doesn't have to be violent. But, he says, 'we never knew this. We were told by our mothers to be in control'.
"It really stuck out, for me, the impact on him because now he and his family were all a lot happier. He didn't like staying out until ten o'clock at night.”
In 2017, we teamed up with Sonke Gender Justice, a South African NGO renowned for its pursuit of social justice and advocacy for gender equality, women’s rights, prevention of gender-based violence and reducing the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS.
The partnership aims to strengthen Concern’s approach to gender work in our programmes, including gender transformative programming and the ‘Engaging Men and Women on Gender Equality’ methodology.