For the last decade, the OECD Development Centre’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) has supported countries in understanding the often invisible barriers to women and girls’ empowerment by measuring the levels of discrimination in social institutions. While the gender equality discourse has predominantly focused on discrimination against women and girls, it is increasingly clear that men and boys need to be engaged in achieving gender equality. The issue thus becomes: how can men and boys be included in advancing important goals such as promoting women’s participation in the labour market, equally redistributing domestic and care work among household members, ensuring women’s political representation and eradicating violence against women? This in turn requires challenging unequal gender power dynamics which are built on codified relations between men and women and on what it means to “be a ‘real’ man’’. In other words, we need to reassess and rethink the ways in which masculinities can be supportive of greater equality, in the context of the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development

When the OECD Development Centre convened a group of experts in February 2020 to discuss the inclusion of masculinities in the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) framework, it became clear that a major barrier to a more systemic understanding of, and solutions to, restrictive masculinities, was a lack of available and comparable data. This publication responds to the urgent need to fill this gap. First, it identifies ten norms of restrictive masculinities that need to urgently be addressed. Second, it proposes a series of indicators designed to measure these norms using a “SIGI lens” by analysing legal frameworks, attitudes and associated practices.

By measuring change over time, these indicators can provide evidence on the effectiveness of policies and programmes aimed at transforming restrictive masculinities into gender-equitable ones. Moreover, this analysis can reshape the gender equality discourse which is often viewed as a zero-sum effort, where women benefit at the expense of men. Taking a serious look at masculinities reveals that the same masculine norms harming women and girls and their empowerment, are also detrimental to the well-being of men and boys, as well as the inclusion of LGBTI people. In short, systematically analysing masculinities can accelerate gender research and demonstrate that achieving gender equality benefits all people.

Mario Pezzini

Director, OECD Development Centre

Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development

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