Reconstructing masculinity? A qualitative evaluation of the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures interventions in urban informal settlements in South Africa

Evidence shows the importance of working with men to reduce intimate partner violence and HIV-risk. Two claims dominate this work. The first is that interventions ‘reconstruct’ masculinities – these new formations of masculinity exist in opposition to existing ones and are healthier for men and less harmful for women. The second is that to be successful, such interventions need to address men’s exclusion from the economy. Using a qualitative longitudinal cohort study of young men who participated in a gender transformative and livelihood strengthening intervention, as well as dyadic interviews with men’s main female partners, we explore these claims. Data suggests men saw some improvements in livelihoods and relationships. However, challenging social contexts, including high rates of unemployment, peer networks and a dominant youth masculinity, limited change. Rather than reconstructing masculinity, a more subtle shift was seen with men moving away from ‘harmful’ aspects of a dominant youth masculinity towards a form of masculinity whereby male power is buttressed by economic provision and attempting to form and support ‘households’. Working with men on their livelihoods at an instrumental level encouraged participation in the intervention. Beyond encouragement, men’s improving livelihoods afforded men the opportunity to materially demonstrate the social changes – in the form of shifts in masculinity – they were seeking to enact.

Full article by Culture, Health, Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care via Taylor & Francis  (subscription required).

Image credit: Saferspaces


Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Year 2015
Author(s) Andrew Gibbsa, Rachel Jewkesb, Yandisa Sikweyiyab & Samantha Willana
Other Numbers 17(2): 208-222
DOI 10.1080/13691058.2014.966150
Read older posts from this section

Leave a Reply