Informing a Government of Alberta Action Plan to Engage Men and Boys to Stop Violence Against Women

At this moment in Alberta, Canada, we all have an opportunity to better support men and boys to play a positive role in the movement to end violence against women. For this reason, we have proposed recommendations specific to the Government of Alberta to inform the development of their Action Plan to positively engage men and boys to advance gender equality and promote healthy masculinities in order to stop violence against women. However, we envision this report as an interim strategy because once men have been invited into the movement in positive ways and they become true allies and leaders in stopping violence against women, they can then be included in a more general strategy to engage all genders in violence prevention. In this sense, engaging men and boys is a bit like preferential hiring or reverse discrimination policies – that is, something that is needed for a period of time to redress a particular oversight or injustice, but is relinquished once that issue has been addressed. As a result, this report was written with the following assumptions in mind: • That the work with men and boys must be done in partnership with women’s organizations. All genders must be engaged to achieve gender equality and stop violence against women. • Funds must not be taken away or diverted from existing women’s organizations in order to advance an engaging men and boys strategy. New funds and resources must be found. • Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation. As such, this work must be informed by a human rights based approach in order to empower all genders to claim their rights and to ensure accountability of individuals and institutions who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights. • Experiences of masculinity are affected by class, location, ethnicity, cultural background, sexuality and many other factors. We need to reflect this intersectionality in our analysis, funding, program design and evaluation strategies. • We live in a patriarchy that reinforces structural inequities and reinforces violence against women. We therefore must work towards dismantling the existing structures and norms that breed men’s sense of entitlement and maintain their privilege, power and control over women. • Gender equality is in the best interest of everyone. This report is written with the intention of: 1) changing the discourse on men and boys from perpetrators to allies and violence disrupters: 2) promoting the inclusion of men and boys in efforts from which they have been largely absent, and 3) promoting the use of research and evidence to inform our violence prevention approach. Shift believes that working with men and boys can have a positive, transformative impact, not only on the lives of women and girls, but also on the lives of men and boys. Shift is committed to advancing this area of research and invites you to contact us to continue the dialogue and learning. Lana Wells, Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary (
Wells, L., Dozois, E., Exner-Cortens, D., Cooper, M., Esina, E., Froese, K., & Boutillier, S. (2015). Executive summary: Informing a Government of Alberta action plan to engage men and boys to stop violence against women. Calgary, AB: The University of Calgary, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence.