Boys, Men, and Masculinities

USAID affirms that men and boys benefit from gender equality and are crucial to engage as stakeholders, partners, and potential positive agents of change for gender equality. This includes men and boys in all their diversity — including men and boys of every age, caste, disability, race or ethnic origin, religion, or belief, and those of the LGBTQI+ community.

Gender constructs shape the lives of men and boys across their life courses. This includes power relations and societal expectations of what it means to be a man or boy in a particular society, community, and family. Some of these expectations can encourage the development of positive attributes; however, they can also negatively affect men and their families and communities. Harmful norms around masculinity create vulnerabilities for men and boys that limit their well-being as well as drive behaviors that harm women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals, including GBV and limitations on education and economic opportunities. 

Men and boys who do not adhere to masculine gender stereotypes within their local contexts may face substantial risk of stigmatization, harassment, abuse, and GBV. Age, class, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, and sexual orientation also influence how gender norms govern behaviors and influence the level of agency men and boys have to address such risks. These expectations may also hinder overall development related to health, education, and experience of violence for men and boys. 

On the other hand, positive representations of masculine behaviors can both decrease the likelihood that men engage in risky behaviors and perpetration of violence as well as encourage better relationships and improved outcomes for themselves, their partners, their children, and their communities. USAID will address the unique needs of men and boys, and encourage positive forms of masculinity, while partnering with them to address the disproportionate impacts of gender inequality on women and girls and LGBTQI+ individuals.