A wide range of initiatives and interventions now exist for engaging men and boys in development activities. Those thought to have most promise are ones that seek to change norms, often using collective action, connecting up individual, community and institutional levels, as well as targeting young people. Not enough is known, however, about what works best when it comes to changing broader social norms, or the institutional arrangements and structures which sustain or shift these norms and attitudes, nor indeed about which men (and women) need to become engaged at different levels, why and how.

In order to enable stronger work with boys and men to promote gender equality, it is essential to gather evidence and lessons to provide a stronger basis for improving policy, learning and practice.

Evidence report

The EMERGE project has produced an evidence report that critically assesses trends and shifts in engaging men and boys for gender equality over the past 20 years. It explores successful policies and programmes and implications for best practice, as well as future directions for promoting men’s and boys’ support for gender equality, across a variety of priority thematic areas.

Find out more about the report


In its first phase, EMERGE focused on identifying the most salient, relevant literature (datasets, books, articles, programme reports) published in recent years. Our approach was to look at studies with a traditional programme focus, as well as to map other policies and processes of change that have documented impacts on lives and relationships. These examine changes in men’s lives, as well as changes in women’s lives, and changes in the relations between women and men. The studies were selected by relevance to EMERGE learning objectives and the rigor of the methodology, as well as by the strength of the evidence presented.

The project’s learning objectives are to increase understanding of:

  • Which (and how) political, social and economic processes can bring about sustainable long-term attitudinal and behavioural change towards gender equality among boys and men (including improved understanding of obstacles to change);
  • The interplay between such change and formal or informal institutions (e.g. work place, family, schools, armed services and religious institutions) and policies;
  • The various (positive or negative) roles of boys and men in influencing or enabling interventions aimed at girls and women; and
  • How development interventions and approaches (whether in economic empowerment, health, education, child welfare etc.) can effectively support long-term attitudinal and behaviour change, facilitating men’s and boys’ support for gender equality (and, thus also, which may hinder such support).

During EMERGE's second phase, our focus has moved to the documentation of learning and practice from the field, involving rapid research from across four regions (Africa, South Asia, Middle East and Latin America). Our aim was to illustrate key evidence based approaches and highlight evidence gaps. The outputs of this phase are eight case studies on work to engage men and boys in building gender equality. Each case study is accompanied by a Story of Change, which summarises the key findings and recommendations.