The root causes of gender-based violence and gender inequality are deeply embedded in patriarchal values and power structures within societies, policies and law. Rigid and harmful sexual and gender norms – how to behave as a man or woman – are key drivers of men’s abuse of power, including their use of violence and resistance to women’s leadership.
Rutgers coordinates different programmes that seek to prevent and stop gender-based violence, by changing this underlying culture in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights. One of them is Generation G, that builds of our earlier programmes that engage men and boys to end gender-based violence. When working on these issues, Rutgers uses its own gender-transformative approach.
“We also work with men as agents of change and partners to women to challenge harmful attitudes and behaviours around gender and masculinity that lead to violence,” says Willy, “that is part of our unique gender-transformative approach.”
In a society that is heralded for being open and tolerant and known for its progressive approach to sexuality education in schools, the news about the sexual abuse claims doesn’t surprise Willy. Studies show that the prevalence of sexual transgressive behaviour is high in the Netherlands as well.
“Our approach to sexuality education has paid off, it resulted in low numbers of teenage pregnancies and abortions. However, this approach in schools is not focused enough when it comes to reducing sexual violence and challenging harmful gender attitudes. This is an area that the Netherlands and many other countries have much work to do.”