SA Country Report

Sonke Gender Justice launches the South Africa Country Report entitled “Working with men and boys to achieve gender equality” for the 2007 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

At the 48th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (2000CSW) in 2004, the South Africa government and the governments of other participating countries made formal commitments to implementing a range of recommendations aimed at “involving men and boys in achieving gender equality”. To document progress made since 2004, the Sonke Gender Justice was commissioned by the Office on the Status of Women within the Presidency to develop the official country report on involving men and boys in achieving gender equality. The country report offers the most comprehensive overview to date of work being done by government and civil society to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality. It identifies a number of key themes and issues a series of frank recommendations to accelerate work with men and to deepen its impact.

Download the 2007 SA Country Report.

Key themes:

The report indicates that “growing numbers of men are taking a stand against gender based violence” and argues that “there is visible support for work with men to achieve gender equality amongst some senior government officials” with evidence of “widespread adoption of work with men in many government departments”. The report also makes the case, though, that “men’s violence against women remains unacceptably high” and notes that critics contend that low conviction rates for rape and domestic violence mean that “government inadvertedly sends a message to perpetrators that, in all likelihood, they can commit violence against women with relative impunity”. The report states that “current efforts rely too heavily on workshops and community outreach” without sufficient attention to “other important change strategies such as advocacy for policy change or rights based activism”. The report also draws attention to “problems related to capacity, a lack of clarity of purpose, poor coordination and insufficient long term commitment”.

Key recommendations:

The report calls for all sectors in South Africa to “intensify their efforts to end men’s violence against women” and argues that important first steps in achieving this will include developing “a clear set of principles to guide work with men”, expanding “existing policy frameworks to strengthen coordination and planning”, “building the capacity of the public sector to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality”. The report calls explicitly for a stronger focus on “rights based advocacy and community mobilisation to demand an end to men’s violence against women”. The report also calls for a stronger focus on reaching men and boys in rural areas and for more interventions focused on educating boys and young adult men, specifically arguing for efforts that “build youth capacity to assert leadership on increasing gender equality”. The report also draws attention specifically to the relationship between men’s behaviour and the spread of HIV/AIDS and argues that government and civil society should launch a “men and HIV services campaign to increase men’s use of HIV services”. The report also urges civil society organisations and community members to support and hold government accountable by participating in structures such as community policing fora and local AIDS councils, amongst others.


Bafana Khumalo
+27 82 905 7587