Using the 2010 Football World Cup to engage boys and men to achieve gender equality

Sport has emerged recently as a way to tackle a range of development-related issues such as peace building, post-disaster relief and health promotion. Sonke co-hosted a meeting in Cape Town in July to look at the use of sport to promote social change.

Engaging men and boys has real impacts

We know that programmes that work with men and boys can have significant impacts on increasing their support for gender equality and on reducing a range of problems like gender-based violence and HIV.

The World Health Organisation and Instituto Promundo recently released a report reviewing 57 interventions with men in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, gender-based violence, fatherhood and HIV prevention. Their analysis has confirmed that such programs, while generally of short duration and limited research, have brought about important changes in men’s attitudes and behaviour.

The Medical Research Council’s evaluation of the Stepping Stones initiative implemented in the Eastern Cape showed significant changes in men’s attitudes and practices. After two years, men who had participated in the intervention reported fewer partners, higher condom use, less transactional sex, less substance abuse and less perpetration of intimate partner violence.

Leveraging 2010

The 2010 Soccer World Cup presents an ideal opportunity to highlight gender-based violence and engage with people; we need to leverage the heightened excitement around sport to tackle real social issues. As Sonke Co-Director Bafana Khumalo remarked: “2010 is not just for the stars and then when they leave, it’s all over”.

The downsides of 2010

The World Cup also raises potential problems, like increasing the vulnerability of women and children through greater sex tourism and paedophilia tourism.

What’s next?

Having looked at the experiences of existing sport for development initiatives like Grassroots Soccer, Coaching Boys into Men and the One Man Can street soccer festival, a steering committee has been formed to develop a strategy for 2010.