March 30, 2022

International collaboration studies how men become involved in gender justice work

Community-based research project focuses on men’s journeys to being gender equality activists
UCalgary professors part of international collaboration studying how men become involved in gender justice work

Dr. Liza Lorenzetti, PhD, and Dr. Aamir Jamal, PhD, both from the Faculty of Social Work, are the co-lead researchers on Stories of Personal Transformation: Men Working for IPV Prevention and Gender Equity.

With collaborators from Canada, the Caribbean, Nepal, and Pakistan, this transnational community-based research project seeks to understand the factors that influence men’s decisions to become involved in intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention and gender equity initiatives, and the transformative impacts of this involvement.

Lorenzetti, who worked several years in women’s shelters and with refugee families, says that men need to be involved in gender justice and IPV prevention work, as a holistic approach is the only way to change the climate around violence and gender inequity.

“This project allows us to highlight and build community-based solutions within our own contexts,” she says. “It also creates a supportive framework to share knowledge, perspectives, and strategies with advocates, educators, and activists across the globe.”

Gender justice in Pakistan

For Jamal, the genesis of this project dates to eight years ago, when he was involved in work being done in Pakistan to engage men on gender justice and education.

“In my early research, every village I went to I found some men who were rejecting existing gender norms and coming together for the prevention of domestic violence and gender justice,” says Jamal.

Both activist scholars sought to expand this work internationally. They received an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to initiate a transnational collaboration highlighting and promoting men’s engagement in violence prevention, gender equity, and gender justice around the world.

Underscoring the importance of relational accountability within the project, Lorenzetti says imperative to this project is the leadership from Indigenous Knowledge Keeper Pamela Beebe.

The goal is to root ourselves as researchers and activists within anti-colonial principles and practices. We believe that violence prevention is inextricably linked to decolonization.

Joined by activist scholars and community leaders in these four regions, men in each region will be interviewed and share their stories and journeys of becoming involved in IPV prevention and gender justice work, and their insights on how other men might be inspired to do the same.

Community series on transforming  masculinities

The project was offered further support through a SSHRC Connections grant, which allowed the team to host a free four-part, online community learning series, Transforming Masculinities: Men in Gender Justice, where each represented country presented on gender justice work within their specific geographic and socio-cultural contexts.

Dr. Gabrielle Hosein with Institute for Gender and Development Stu​dies at the University of the West Indies emphasizes the Caribbean's contribution to this project, stating that this “enables a transnational network of researcher-activists to think about how masculinities are being transformed in different contexts, influenced both by feminist movements and a masculinist backlash, in ways related to their specific histories of colonization and decolonization”.

Kevin Liverpool, administrator of the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN), says he has valued the knowledge gained from other countries and the principles of equality, decolonization, and reflective practice the project is grounded in.

As a team comprised of persons from diverse cultures, there has been collective intentionality in valuing every voice and honouring the uniqueness of all,” says Liverpool.

Rita Dhungel, Social Work assistant professor with the University of the Fraser Valley, and lead for the Nepal team, endorses the project: “I am very excited about the learning opportunities around policies, programs, and practices for IPV prevention and gender justice in the four countries, and the networking and relationships being built with the academia, community organizations, and communities at large through this research process.”

Lorenzetti says that, through this project, each region “will be able to tap into, and support, the work that’s being done in the local contexts.”