Journeys of Transformation: A Training Manual for Engaging Men as Allies in Women's Economic Empowerment

Published: December 2011

This manual provides group education sessions for engaging men as allies in women's economic empowerment. It emerges from CARE's experience, in Rwanda and elsewhere, that women's economic empowerment works, but that it can be made to work better and to achieve even more movement toward equality when men are deliberately engaged as allies. The activities presented in this manual were developed through a process of action-research involving qualitative and quantitative methods and incorporating the responses, realities, and perspectives of women beneficiaries of economic empowerment (via CARE's Voluntary Savings and Loan Associations, or VSLAs or VSLs) and their male partners. It was developed together with CARE-Rwanda staff, as well as with partners from the Rwandan Men's Resource Centre (Rwamrec).

Key Findings

  • 73% of Rwandan men and 82% of women said that a woman's most important role is to take care of her family.
  • 40% of women are dissastisfied with their sexual relationships with their partners, compared with 14% of men who report they are sexually dissatified with their partners.
  • 75% of Rwandan women interviewed said that their husbands dominate household decision-making, while 57% of men interviewed said they dominate household decision-making.
  • 46% of Rwandan men and 54% of women said that a woman must respect and accept her husband's decisions in everything
  • About 17% of men regularly abuse alcohol.
  • 5% of Rwandan men said they had had sex with sex workers, while 18% said they had paid for or traded goods for sex.
  • Nearly 40% of Rwandan men reported having carried out violence against a female partner.
  • More than 50% of women and 57% of men said that men should earn more than women.
  • The IMAGES-Rwanda study also found that women who are more economically advantaged are more likely to experience gender-based violence
  • Men who witnessed or were directly affected by the genocide had higher rates of reported use of violence against their female partners, as did men who reported witnessing violence by their fathers against their mothers in their household of origin.
  • Women's income is lower than men on average globally, and research from numerous settings confirms that men on aggregate contribute a lower percentage of their income to the household and to children than do women.
  • Women's participation in microfinance and other economic empowerment approaches can have a number of positive results, including reduced risk of HIV, reductions in violence from male partners, and increased social status and mobility, in addition to the benefits of the income itself.
  • Household decision-making continues to be dominated by men and efforts that focus solely on women's economic empowerment with the goal of improving family well-being may inadvertently reinforce norms that women are caregivers and invested in their families, while men are assumed negligent.
  • CARE's experience supporting Rwandan women in their Voluntary Savings and Loan Associations, or VSLAs, has been that men react in diverse ways when their female partners or wives are VSLA beneficiaries.
  • Few efforts have been made to engage men as allies or partners in women's economic empowerment, and when such efforts have been made, they have often started with untested assumptions about men.
  • More than 95% of women were taught to carry out household duties as children, while just 49% of men were.

Populations Adolescent Girls

Complementary Outcomes HIV/AIDS, Sexual And Reproductive Health

Publishers CARE Rwanda, ProMundo

Geographic Focus Africa (Central) / Rwanda

Funded by CARE International in Rwanda, CARE Norway