Gender Equality Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

By Giving List Women   |   May 20, 2024
Participants from the Bandebereho (role model) project in Rwanda. (photo courtesy of RWAMREC)

Equimundo’s roots can be found in Brazil, where founder and CEO, Gary Barker, was researching men in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas about what manhood meant to them and their support or opposition to gender equality. Most efforts to engage men often assume they are opposed to equality for women.  Clearly some are, but the founders saw in that initial research that many men were on board. That early work affirmed that many men resist harmful, violent ideas about manhood around them. And it’s that untapped resistance to inequality and harmful manhood that drives men’s energy to join as allies for gender equality.

Based on that early research, the young men who favored gender equality became the first community promoters and co-authors of Equimundo’s initial program and research initiatives. From the beginning that work has been based in the belief that gender equality needs men as allies and that men need and benefit from gender equality. Gender equality and justice cannot be approached as a zero sum game. Working first in community change models and national and international advocacy, Equimundo has dedicated decades of work to alleviate the violence, injustice, and oppression affecting the lives of women and girls, by challenging and changing how men and boys are raised to treat women, and by reshaping what they believe it means to be men. They’ve led one of the largest ever studies on men’s attitudes about manhood, violence, and gender equality, IMAGES: the International Men and Gender Equality Survey that identifies the factors that lead some men to support gender equality and led to national policies for male allyship.

Today, Equimundo works globally to achieve gender equality and social justice by breaking intergenerational cycles or patterns of harm and promoting patterns of care, empathy, and accountability among boys and men throughout their lives.

Changing the Trajectory of the Care Movement to Transform Manhood

Through their flagship research like the State of the World’s Fathers report, and investigating caregiving, Equimundo and colleagues made a discovery that has changed the trajectory of the movement to transform manhood and masculinity. “We recognized that nowhere in the world was anyone examining the issues of care and care quality, and not just mainly focused on men as fathers,” Barker notes. “The more we looked, the more we saw that men’s lack of participation in caregiving is one of the biggest drivers of women’s lower participation in politics and social life.” 

This research was one of their flagship research initiatives and it became the genesis of “MenCare,” a campaign they coordinate with the South Africa-based organization Sonke Gender Justice. MenCare promotes the benefits of working to end violence against women, to change norms, including promoting gender equity, beginning when children are young. MenCare encourages men to use what’s been sometimes called their “care muscles.”

Program H Works in 32 Countries

Another key Equimundo  global initiative is Program H (also known as Manhood 2.0, in the U.S.). Both programs offer a gender-transformative curriculum and community-based programs designed to engage men in challenging harmful gender norms and reducing sexual violence, adjust coping mechanisms, and introduce healthier ways to deal with conflict. “We use an intersectional lens to ask adolescent boys and young men to reflect critically about their identities,” Barker says. 

Equimundo’s Program H has been adapted and/or implemented with partners in 32 countries around the world. Program H has also been named a best practice in promoting gender equality and preventing gender-based violence by the World Bank and the World Health Organization, and has been officially adopted by ministries of health in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Croatia, among other countries.


Equimundo: Center for Healthy Masculinities and Social Justice

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Director of Business Development: Ammarah Maqsood


Equimundo is an applied research organization dedicated to achieving gender equality and social justice by transforming intergenerational patterns of harm and promoting care, empathy, and accountability among boys and men throughout their lives. Our emphasis on research underscores our belief in the power of informed and evidence-based approaches to drive positive societal change.

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