New Evidence of Positive Impacts from Work with Men and Boys on Gender and HIV

New research indicates that interventions promoting behaviour change among men on gender attitudes and roles, sexual behaviour and health produce positive impacts. Sonke Gender Justice is pleased to announce publication of ground-breaking original research results that confirm positive impacts of its “One Man Can” (OMC) campaign with men and boys in promoting gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, and encouraging men to engage in behaviour that helps protect against HIV infection and minimise the impact of AIDS:

  • Uptake of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services after intervention showed a level of 27% – just above the target level of 25%.
  • Over half of survey participants (53%) reported they had witnessed at least one incident of gender-based violence in their home or community. Of those, more than half again (52%) reported these to the police, about a quarter (28%) reported them to community structures and 6% to local NGOs.
  • Two-thirds of participants (67%) reported an increase in condom use after OMC workshops.

These findings will be presented by Dr. Christopher J. Colvin, Senior Research Officer in Social Sciences and HIV/AIDS, University of Cape Town, on Wednesday, October 7th, 11:00am-12:30pm, as part of the MenEngage Africa Symposium, being co-hosted by Sonke Gender Justice and the MenEngage alliance at Turbine Hall, Newtown, October 5th-9th.

Research Summary

The study was conducted in seven South African provinces: Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Free State, Gauteng and North West. The main research aims were to investigate knowledge, attitudes and practices related to HIV prevention, gender-based violence and gender equality; and, men’s understanding of, engagement with, and commitment to rights-based, activist approaches to HIV- and violence-prevention initiatives. An initial impact evaluation of the One Man Campaign in these provinces was conducted. Further qualitative research was then carried out to better understand issues of men, gender, HIV/AIDS, human rights and community involvement.Findings of the study indicate that Sonke’s “One Man Can” campaign is an effective way to change the HIV- and gender-related behaviours and attitudes of men and women at both individual and community levels. Significant numbers of campaign participants reported getting tested for HIV, witnessing and responding to gender-based violence and using condoms at higher levels than prior to their involvement in the campaign activities.

Additional Research Findings

The research findings session at the MenEngage Africa Symposium will also highlight two additional recent studies on related issues of gender, sexuality and health. A recent research study of multiple concurrent partnerships, conducted by Sarah Laurence, Research Analyst with Health Development Africa (HDA), indicates far fewer men reporting multiple concurrent partners than anticipated. And a study of men and caregiving by Dr. Robert Morrell, Professor of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Dr. Rachel Jewkes, Director of the Medical Research Council’s Gender and Health Research Unit and Honorary Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health, shows higher levels of participation by men in caregiving roles than anticipated. Taken together, these three studies provide important and exciting evidence that interventions targeting behaviour change among men and boys on gender roles, sexual behaviour and health produce positive change.


Sonke Gender Justice launched the “One Man Can” Campaign (OMC) in late 2006 in partnership with a variety of South African and international organisations. The OMC campaign’s major goal is to support men and boys to advocate for gender equality, to promote and sustain change in their personal lives, and to change the gender norms driving the rapid spread of HIV. The OMC Campaign is rooted firmly in the belief that all men can become advocates for gender equality and active participants in efforts to respond to HIV and AIDS. Sonke is also currently working in partnership with Johns Hopkins Health and Education South Africa (JHHESA) on the “Brothers for Life” Campaign, targeting men aged 30 and above regarding a broad range of health and gender issues, including HIV and AIDS, substance abuse, sexual and reproductive health, responsible fatherhood. The MenEngage Africa Symposium will bring together 350 delegates from more than 30 African countries, to develop a shared vision for work with men and boys across Africa, strengthen participants’ capacity to implement multi-faceted interventions with men and boys on gender and HIV, develop country-specific workplans with targets and timeframes, and strengthen the MenEngage alliance, the Pan-Commonwealth Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS and the Commonwealth Women’s Network in Africa.

For More Information

For more information on the MenEngage Africa Symposium, please visit:

For more information on the research findings described above, please contact Dr. Christopher J. Colvin ( or Dean Peacock ( or +27 72 461 7751).MenEngage is a global alliance of NGOs and UN agencies that seeks to engage boys and men to achieve gender equality. Members include more than 400 NGOs from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Europe. (

Sonke Gender Justice is a South African NGO working with men and boys across Africa to promote gender transformation, human rights and social justice. (