EXPERT GROUP MEETING
MALE ROLES AND MASCULINITIES IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF
A CULTURE OF PEACE
- UNESCO organized through its "Women and the Culture of Peace" Programme the
Expert Group Meeting on "Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture
of Peace" in Oslo, Norway, from 24 to 28 September 1997. The meeting was organized in
co-operation with the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO and with the support of the
Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Ministry of Cultural Affairs,
the Council of Europe and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
- Whilst women's roles and status have been broadly debated over the last decades, men's
roles and positions have hardly been discussed. Recently, however, the question of
masculinities has been addressed in a series of publications; and the importance of a
gender perspective, as underlined strongly in the Beijing Platform for Action and in the
ECOSOC-meeting in July 1997, is more widely understood.
- In a world in rapid transformation, characterized by high risk of unemployment,
marginalization and exclusion, the linking of male identity primarily to positions of
power and decision-making in public and private life seems to create frustration and
severe problems that counteract and put at risk transformations from a culture of violence
to a culture of peace.
- Drawing on existing literature and theoretical knowledge in the relevant academic
disciplines and interdisciplinary fields, the meeting, which brought together peace and
gender researchers and activists with experience of anti-violence work among men, examined
gender-related factors that hinder or sustain movements towards a culture of peace. It
further explored the development of new, more egalitarian and partnership-oriented types
of masculinities as opposed to traditional and stereotyped expectations of masculinity
that might lead to undue acceptance of the use of authority, dominance, control, force,
aggressiveness and violence.
- The meeting further addressed the harmful consequences of rigid and stereotyped
definitions of masculinity and femininity, roles of dominance and submission, the
consequences of raising boy children to be tough and dominating and the social, cultural
and economic conditions producing violence among men.
The meeting explored practical strategies for reducing men's violence,
and the possibilities of raising boys in ways that emphasise the qualities (such as
emotional response, caring, and communication skills) needed in building a culture of
peace. It undertook the task of formulating recommendations, addressed to the UN, UNESCO,
Member States and NGOs, for practical measures that enhance the development of a
gender-sensitive culture of peace, in relation to society and its major institutions such
as the family, the educational system, the media and political, military and religious
structures. Special emphasis was given to how to develop insight and training in
addressing conflicts and "disempowerment" without recourse to violent behaviour.
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