Violence against Women 

an Obstacle to Peace

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Violence against Women an Obstacle to Peace

"Violence - Masculinity - Peace"
Four Conferences - A New Vision
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Men’s problem that can be healed, recovered from, separated from, liberated from and abandoned for growth into a new man

"Since wars begin in the minds of men,
it is in the minds of men that defences
of peace must be constructed."

Charter of UNESCO, 1946

"The safest place for men is the home,
the home is, by contrast, the least safe place for women."

Susan Edwards
Policing "Domestic" Violence, 1989

"My experience is that changing men is difficult but possible.

An alternative to violence means learning to act non-violently.
It means co-operation instead of competition.
It means respecting instead of degrading.
It means equality instead of dominance.
It means dialogue instead of monologue.
It means communicating instead of control.
It means love instead of fear, hate and contempt.

- Men must take responsibility for their violence and dominance."

Per Isdal, Leading Psychologist,
Alternative to Violence, Oslo, Norway

"Changing men has been such a success that the prospect of changing the entire society into a culture of peace can now be envisioned."

Knut Oftung, Council for Equality (Norway),
Interview in Aftenposten 12 October 1997

Four Conferences in 1997 - A New Vision

Four Conferences in 1997 - A New Vision



1. A New Vision for an Old Issue
2. The Beijing Conference - An Engine of Change
3. Men’s Research Sheds Light into Darkness
4. Is Violence Masculine?
5. We Cannot Eliminate Violence without Equality
6. Domestic Violence in Latin America and in the Caribbean

7. From a culture of violence to a culture of peace

8. The Dawn of a New Millennium?

Information notes
Appendix 1 : The reports and documents distributed at the IDB conference
Appendix 2 : UNESCO Expert Group Meeting on "Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture of Peace" (Oslo, Norway, 4 - 28 September 1997)

Report by Hilkka Pietilä,
Jussaarenkuja 5 N 134, 00840 Helsinki, Finland

Telephone/Fax: 09-698 12 88
e-mail: hilkka.pietila(AT)


The year 1997 may prove a uniquely epoch-making year. A new vision is opening up, a new viewpoint to the old and common yet extremely sensitive issue: violence against women. Consequently, new ways of changing the situation can be developed: instead of merely helping the victims, the perpetrators of violence can also be helped to be liberated, to recover, to abandon their violent behaviour.

The year 1997 saw four significant conferences at different levels - national, regional, interregional and global - dealing with violence as a men’s problem and a characteristic of the masculine culture, and developing ways of transforming the culture of violence into a culture of peace with equality between men and women.

Violence against women is an ancient, universal problem occurring in every culture and social group. At one extremity, there are public rapes and acts of violence in wars often carried out on a massive scale, and at the other violence related to the most private, most intimate life in families, within the walls of the home. For centuries, this has been efficiently silenced. Women have not been allowed to tell outsiders about things taking place behind the front door; rapes in armed conflicts have not been visible in statistics or history books. Even public laws have not been allowed to step over the threshold of the home.

Until now, the issue has been discussed as if it were a women’s issue and problem, and the topic has mainly been how women as victims of violence can be helped and supported. Now the perspective has turned; it is seen that this is the worst problem of the men’s world. The questions now being asked are: Why do men abuse?; Why are men violent? Can they be helped to rid themselves of violence? What is essential is that now men themselves are talking about the issue and accepting collective responsibility for it. As soon as men do not abuse, women will no longer continue to be victims.

In 1997 these issues were discussed thoroughly and extensively at national level in Stockholm: "Is violence Masculine? - Conference on men and violence" organised by the Swedish Government in January; at regional level in Strasbourg: "Promoting Equality: A Common Issue for Men and Women" by the Council of Europe in June; at interregional level in Washington D.C. "Domestic Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, Costs, Programs and Policies" by Inter-American Development Bank in October; and at global level in the Oslo Expert Group Meeting on "Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture of Peace" by UNESCO in September.


Is it a coincidence that all these consequent conferences were held right now? In any case, they were all arranged against a common background: the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China, from 4 to 15 September 1995, and the Platform for Action adopted by the Conference with "eliminating all kinds of violence against women" as one of the key objectives.

No less than three of the twelve strategic objectives in the Beijing Platform for Action are directly related to eliminating open, physical violence against women and girls (Violence Against Women, Women and Armed Conflict, The Girl-Child). Recognising and eliminating economic, structural, social and cultural violence threads through the entire Platform of Action.

However, discussion about violence against women did not start in the United Nations as recently as the Beijing Conference. The key words of the discussion were included in the Forward-Looking Strategies for Equality, Development and Peace adopted by the United Nations Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985:

"The questions of women and peace, and the meaning of peace for women, cannot be separated from the broader question of relationships between women and men in all spheres of life and in the family." (Paragraph 257)

"Violence against women exists in various forms in everyday life in all societies. Women are beaten, mutilated, burned, sexually abused and raped. Such violence is a major obstacle to the achievement of peace and other objectives of the Decade and should be given special attention." (Paragraph 258)

Milestones crucial to the issue were the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women adopted by the UN General Assembly in autumn 1993, and the resolution in the same year by the UN Security Council that established an International War Crimes Tribunal to investigate the war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and recognised "massive, organised and systematic detention and rape of women" as war crimes. This was the first time in history that the intergovernmental community recognised rape as a war crime, although it has always taken place in every war for thousands of years.

Sweden has played an exciting and well-executed role in the process towards a new vision regarding violence against women for a long time. The year 1975 was the United Nations International Women’s Year and, as it happened, the most important Swedish publication for this theme year was a booklet titled Rätten att vara människa (The Right to be Human) dealing with the male role and the fears and anxieties thereto, expressing the narrowness of the role that our culture has preconceived for men.

Therefore, it was not a coincidence that the Swedish Government presented in Beijing a book titled Men on Men with accounts by eight Swedish men on equality, masculinity and parenthood. The Swedish Government also acted as the initiator for the above-mentioned seminar by the Council of Europe, and the programme was to a large extent drafted in Sweden.

The fact that the large interregional, transnational Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has adopted exposing and combating violence against women as one of the major themes in its policy must certainly be attributed to Enrique Iglesias, the experienced and enlightened United Nations veteran and the long-term President of IDB - even though this may not increase the interest accruing to the financiers of the bank!

Glimpses of this new outlook on dealing with violence against women could also be seen in the Baltic-Nordic Conference Dialogue between Women and Men in Valmiera, Latvia, 7 - 10 August 1997. In the plenary session of the Conference, Per Isdal from Norway gave one of the main lectures on "Men who use violence against their wives - Theory and treatment". Many working groups also heard comments touching upon this viewpoint, and the workshop "Violence against Women - an Issue of Peace?" by the Nordic Women’s Peace Network underlined the fact that, in this issue in particular, "Personal is political."

"In our understanding of violence we agree with what we could call a feminist understanding of violence, so our understanding and ideology should be seen as pro-feminist. - A difference in power creates violence because violence is a way to create and maintain power difference. - The man and the male culture is the source of violence, and we have to go to the source. - In order to stop men’s violence you have to do something about men."

Excerpts from Per Isdal’s lecture in Valmiera


Robert Connell from Australia, one of the central characters and a rapporteur in the UNESCO Expert Group Meeting gives an excellent depiction of the upheaval in academia during the last decades in the article distributed by him in Oslo:

"In Moliere’s comedy Le bourgeois gentilhomme M. Jourdain is conversing with a professor of philosophy and learns to his amazement that when he tells his servant to bring his slippers and night-cap, he is speaking prose. "Good heavens!" he responds. "For more than forty years I have been speaking prose and never knew it.""

"The human sciences are in something of the same position. For the last two hundred years they have been studying masculinity without knowing it. Men, men’s position in the world, and men’s practices have always been the main subject-matter in political science, history, geography, economics, sociology, and even psychology. But it was only when feminist critics demonstrated the overwhelming exclusion of women from the Western intellectual tradition that men in academia began to realise we had, in gender terms, been speaking prose all our lives. It became possible to re-think the traditional social sciences as the massive, though indirect, documentation of the men’s half of a gendered world. And it became possible to think of a new research agenda that directly addressed the gender of men." (R W Connell, 1997)

Gender research on men is still in its infancy, whereas the discussion about men’s violence seems to be expanding rapidly. Men’s violent behaviour against women has always been sexually charged. Although the topic has not been talked about, it is commonly known and utterly sore. Perhaps this is why action seems to be taking place so rapidly - a door has been opened, the wall of silence has been broken. The conferences referred to in this report, all held within a year, are a manifestation of this rapidly changing atmosphere.

But how does the approach seem to be changing? What is new in the approach to the issue of violence, men’s violence against women but also against children and each other, violence in general?

What is new is that:

- the topic is no longer merely the victims, women that have been and are being abused but also those who abuse;

- the issue is now discussed by men who until recently have not wanted to recognise the violence of their own culture;

- the tone is now not that of blaming but that of questioning;

- the question asked is not only why he batters his wife, partner or child but also why he hits another man, why the male world is so violent;

- the topic now is not just the violence of individual men but also masculinity, being a man in general, the male culture;

- it is now admitted that the issue concerns all men, not just the ones that behave violently;

- this way the roots of male violence, the foundations of patriarchy, can be explored;

- it is now revealed that, starting in childhood, a preconceived mould of masculinity is imposed upon men;

- this is not just talk, men are helped through therapy, they are permitted to take off their

straitjacket, to live their masculinity in a new way;

- men are encouraged to look at themselves in the mirror and find themselves as humans too, not just men;

- it is in men’s interests to learn how to fulfil themselves in a more balanced and diversified way, to control their emotional life instead of controlling others;

- it is naturally also an issue of women’s happiness to be able to live in a relationship without fear, humiliation and submission, and in an equal partnership, cooperation and shared growth as women and men;

- with men changing, the entire culture is beginning to change, and foundations for a culture of peace, equality and a sustainable lifestyle are being laid.

The essential point is that, instead of just focusing on each case of violence or even just on men’s acts of violence against women, the entire culture creating the current male role and identity is under analysis. The new approach is revealing the "social pathology" of the male culture that quite obviously emphasises only certain qualities and features in men’s personality while neglecting or even rejecting the balanced and diverse development of male personality.

Ultimately, this discussion inevitably leads into the fact that men, too, have "gender", that masculinity - as produced biologically and culturally, as a combination of both - is as much a gender as femininity. Until now, our culture has - unconsciously? - seen men as the prototypes of people. The male way of living and thinking has been viewed as characteristic of human beings and dominant whereas femininity - women’s ways of living, experiencing and thinking - have been reduced to something characteristic of women and deviating from the predominant "man".

From its own perspective, men’s research looks into men and men’s culture through eyes as fresh as those discovered by women’s studies in its early days. It is therefore producing information about men that is as new to men themselves as to us all.

The international and particularly intergovernmental system has been a male domain for a very long time. Now there are key persons in the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and other international institutions who have realised the epoch-making importance of this new approach. They have brought about the arrangement of the conferences described to in this report, and invited the pathfinding experts and researchers to provide the international system with new visions and information. This is an effective way of disseminating the new vision globally.


"I want to see violence as a symptom of both a power structure over women, children and other men and as a system of self-subjucation penetrating through our entire male culture and therefore affecting me, too. I call this structure of power/powerlessness the social pathology of masculinity."

Per Are Lökke, Child and Youth Psychologist, Oslo

On 15 January 1997, the Swedish Ministry of Labour arranged a conference with a direct theme: "Is violence masculine?" The opening presentation was made by Eva Moberg, an esteemed Swedish writer and activist, who in 1993 launched a campaign for getting men to address among themselves the issues of masculinity and male violence. All of other speakers were well known and prominent men from Sweden and Norway.

Per Are Lökke, a Norwegian child and youth psychologist from the University of Oslo, got directly to the heart of the matter. "Is violence masculine? Are individual men and the male culture responsible for violence we see around us in society," asked he, too, and his answer was, "Both yes and no." Per Are Lökke depicted the vulnerability underlying men’s violence with examples from literature.

"These men’s vulnerability has two sources. The woman - she who is real - threatens him. She triggers the vulnerability that he is trying to compensate at any price. She can strip him, make him small and dependent. Other men threaten him, too. With their monuments they can make him feel weak, impotent and incompetent. Something that he will also try to compensate for at all costs."

He calls this phenomenon the social pathology of masculinity that "prevails in today’s fathers’ and men’s traditions. We live in a culture that teaches boys courage and responsibility in working life but not in close relationships. We teach boys football and physical games but we do not teach them how to stand on their feet in their emotional life. This is why many men in their emotional life are like immature boys as there are no fatherhood traditions teaching them the ABC of emotional life."

Per Are Lökke quoted the portrait of a violent man by Per Isdal based on his ten years’ experience in practical therapeutic work:

"I feel small and master this feeling by making her even smaller. I am afraid and overcome this by making her even more afraid. I am hurt and overcome this by hurting her. I am afraid of being left and keep this in check by handcuffing her. I am dependent on her and handle this by making her even more dependent on me. I feel powerless and master the feeling by assuming power and control over my immediate surroundings. I do not think of myself as afraid; I think of her as dangerous. I do not consider myself insecure, I consider her untrustworthy. I do not think of myself as being hurt, I think of her as a witch."

The recipe given by Per Are Lökke is that we need a revolution in male culture, a fundamental change in boys’ upbringing. In his opinion, the major reason for complications and problems in boys’ development is the fact that in today’s world fathers spend so little or no time with their sons, not to mention today’s fathers’ limited capacities to create really close and functioning relationships with their sons. Men must first transform their own lives; the revolution of male culture must start as much with fathers as with sons. At the same time, he warns us not to forget that violence is only one of the manifestations of the deeply problematic nature of masculinity.


The very traditionally worded title of the seminar arranged by the Council of Europe - Promoting Equality: A Common Issue for Men and Women - includes one of the conclusions drawn at the seminar: Equality between men and women is a precondition for eliminating violence against women.

The obvious background to the seminar was the Council’s role in protecting and developing human rights, and its Declaration on Policies for Combating Violence against Women in a Democratic Europe adopted in Rome in 1993. The guidelines to the declaration state that creating awareness among men and encouraging them to analyse and dismantle mechanisms of violence and to find alternative patterns of behaviour is essential in the attempts to eliminate violence against women.

The seminar did not view equality as merely a technically and statistically measurable value. Almost every presentation emphasised men’s duties, responsibilities and contributions regarding the achievement of equality both in their private life as fathers and partners and in public life as decision-makers and as developers of business life. Promoting equality is not just a responsibility and demand; it creates opportunities for an enriched and more rewarding life as a human being for men, too. This perspective shows how much men can gain in their lives when they manage to get rid of their violence.

Men’s own interests in promoting equality were initially brought up in the first presentation by Bengt Westerberg, the former Minister for Equality between Men and Women in Sweden, who spoke about equality as a factor for the positive development of men’s role and of society. The other main speaker, Professor Alberto Godenzi from Switzerland, brought the theme of violence into the discussion in his presentation on "Men and Violence: the Logic of Inequality". These themes were further discussed in the reports by Eva Moberg (Sweden) - Equality between women and men: better life, better society? -and Walter Hollstein (Germany), New roles for men and the benefit for men and children.

Two Norwegians, Per Are Lökke and Jörgen Lorentzen, presented the seminar with a report on "Men’s Violence against Women: the Need to Take Responsibility." It proved such a powerful account that one is tempted to quote it in full. They began their report by stating that there still remains a great deal of resistance against calling this type of violence by its true name: men’s violence against women.

They presented universally applicable examples encountered in therapy sessions, drawing the picture of a man " who is largely out of touch with his own emotions, without a sense of subjective responsibility, who thinks his use of force is justified and legitimate. When described this way, it is easy to see how the man using private violence resembles all other men in our society. ... Rarely do the men themselves, based on self-reflection and empathy, take on responsibility for their own actions. For this reason, it is impossible to separate the violent man from the rest of us as ‘different’, as a madman. He is one of us, like us and a carrier of the same social structures that give all men privileges in our society."

Men committing acts of violence and crimes seem to have one thing in common: a problematic relationship with their father or the absence of a father, either literally or symbolically. Lorenzen and Lökke referred to a Norwegian study on men’s relationships with their fathers and, in particular, their feelings about an absent father (Holter & Aarseth, 1994). The answers may be characterised by the men’s own words:

- "I don’t quite know what to say about my father because I didn’t really know him."

- "I knew him as a father, not as a person."

- "My father was absent or remote."

- "When not remote, he was often felt to be aggressive, controlling and tyrannical."

- Their picture of their fathers is often the reverse image of the impression they themselves want to make.

"This father, whom the children do not know, is someone absent, remote, aggressive, the founder of our masculine culture. In most western countries, statistics showing the enormous extent of the absence of fathers are now emerging. In Europe, there are hundreds of thousands of sons who never see their fathers," state these researchers.

The key issue is that men must redefine the nature of their emotions. "We cannot equate emotions and femininity. We must reclaim our emotional lives and, if possible, find a new language to express emotions. At the same time, we must learn from women. It must be possible for us to establish relations with women based on cooperation and common growth," they state strongly and optimistically.

As can be anticipated on the basis of the key presentations, the discussions focused on whether promoting equality in society is a zero-sum game - when women win, men will lose - or whether it is a win-win deal whereby both parties as well as children and the entire society will win. Francois de Singly, the General Rapporteur, clearly agreed with the latter alternative in his General Conclusions, and this also seemed to be the opinion shared at the seminar.

Two common denominators could be found in the discussion on the conclusions and in the recommendations given:

a) The recognition of "female" values - values of interiority - for all, including men;

b) The rejection of violence as legitimate form of expression with regard to all humans - women, children and men alike.

Equality between women and men cannot be achieved by conforming to the male model of the world. In order to promote equality and at the same time actively involve men, concrete recommendations for action were made and categorised under the following themes:

1. Develop research on how masculinity is constructed.

2. Organise meetings and seminars at which men and women together discuss and develop post-patriarchal visions of the future.

3. Develop and support new ways of bringing up boys.

4. Combat acts of violence by launching measures at two levels:

  • Violence, especially male violence and the culture of violence, must be condemned - it is a crime and its perpetrators must be punished.

  • Therapies should be developed for violent men.

5. Aid facilities for the victims of violence, especially battered women, should be reinforced.

6. To encourage equality and fight inequality in all its forms, awareness must be raised among individuals and groups at several levels.

7. Increase male participation in domestic work, especially in bringing up children. The role of the father must be enhanced, not in the traditional but in a modern form. Fathers must be closer to their children.

8. The Council of Europe, more specifically its Steering Committee for Equality between Women and Men must:

  • Continue the work begun in combating violence against women by drawing up a convention on the subject;

  • Identify and study the fundamental obstacles to the promotion of equality, in particular the characteristics of male power in all its forms;

  • Enhance cooperation with non-governmental organisations; including considering the launching of the White Ribbon Campaign all over Europe.

The recommendations clearly emphasise the same points as the Stockholm Conference: the irreconcilability of violence and equality; the fundamental reform of boys’ upbringing, and building a relationship between fathers and sons; and diversified actions - research, therapy, practical domestic work, support for growing into the role of a father, etc - to free men from the prevailing, narrow male role. All the above themes include a great number of detailed and concrete recommendations worth looking at in the report. The working papers presented are also included in the report. (Council of Europe, 1997)



The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Conference on Domestic Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean began in Washington, D.C., on Monday 20 October 1997. Two days earlier, on Saturday, the city saw a very special demonstration, a march to break the silence and to eliminate domestic violence by the year 2010. There were 1,500 participants from fifty states, carrying an equal number of life-size silhouettes of women killed by their husbands or partners. Each picture was accompanied by the woman’s story. They were silent yet all the more audible witnesses to violence against women. These pictures were carried by the victims’ mothers, sisters, brothers or friends.

The silent demonstration was one of the events during the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The participants were unlikely to know that their march took place right before the conference on the same subject arranged by a major development bank. However, Enrique Iglesias, the President of IDB, welcomed the message in his opening speech by referring to this "silent yet all the more audible manifesto" that brought up the subject of the conference effectively.

In his speech, Enrique Iglesias mentioned that 25 to 50 per cent of Latin American women fall victim to some form of violence. Thus, IDB wishes to be more than just a bank, and strongly raise the issue in its operations. In this way, the bank contributes to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, a document obliging transnational development banks, too. As the President stated, this was the first IDB conference on this subject in thirty-seven years, ie the entire history of the bank.

The President emphasised that violence against women is not only a violation against women’s dignity and human rights but also a question of peace and security, a social, economic and health issue, affecting the quality of life. It undermines the foundations of society while breaking families. Furthermore, as a bank, they wish to highlight the fact that it is also a major economic issue. Violence against women results in the loss of millions of dollars every year due to lost working days, medical expenses, police expenditure, providing care for women, children and the aged, etc.



All the Member States of IDB and the Organisation of American States (OAS) had been invited to the Conference, and there were some 300 participants from the Americas. Almost fifty speakers and introducers had been invited, including Ulrika Messing, Minister of Equality Affairs (Sweden); Hillary Clinton, US First Lady; Billie Miller, Deputy Prime Minister (Barbados); Lorraine Williams, President of Inter-Amrican Commission on Women, OAS; Jacquin Strouss de Samber, First Lady of Colombia; Beverly Anderson-Manly, the energetic and dynamic former First Lady of Jamaica; and Patricia Schroerer, the veteran politician from the USA who turned out to be the mother of the idea behind the entire conference and who precided the second day.

As early as the first day of the Conference, more than twenty million listeners and viewers were reported to follow the discussions through the media. Consequently, the Conference was very successful in its objective to raise the issue of violence against women in the Americas. Appearances by well-known and prominent persons further served the purpose.

One of the contribitions of the bank itself was a fine video titled Battered Lives, Broken Trust: When Men Abuse Women, an approximately twenty-minute information flash on the theme. The video was made in a very skillful and balanced way; it is effective yet not quilt-inducing or sensational. It also expresses the universality of the problem, and is therefore well suited for use in all countries.


Several opening speakers thanked the bank for adopting the issue of domestic violence as part of the central policy. Billie Miller, the Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, stated that the occurrence of violence against women in the Caribbean is amongst the highest in the world, and alarmingly common in Latin America at large. Thus, it really is essential, and high time, to raise the issue audibly and visibly.

Since the conference was arranged by a bank, the costs resulting from violence were, alongside with the causes, strongly emphasised. This is further justified because domestic violence and poverty are clearly correlated: poverty inc reases the occurrence of violence against women and children. However, as yet statistical information on the costs in the region of IDB is fairly limited. There are, however, studies showing that violence against women decreases in accordance with an increase in their income, irrespective of the source of income, be it remunerated work or family or other types of allowances for women.

A recent Nicaraguan study reveals that approximately 33% of the 16 to 49-year-old women have been victims of serious physical abuse. The children of abused mothers also require three times more medical care and are hospitalised a lot more often than other children. More than 60% of these children also have to repeat a year at school, and they drop out of school at the average age of nine whereas other mothers’ children continue their education until the age of twelve. This is alarming information about the specific consequences that violence against mothers has on children and their future. (Appendix 1; No 2 and The IDB Special Report, "Domestic Violence" 1997).

Regarding industrialised countries, it is known that, for example in Canada, the annual costs to society generated by domestic violence amount to at least 1.6 billion dollars, including decreases in productivity due to absence from work, and the victims’ medical care. In the USA, estimates regarding econonomic losses caused by violence against women vary from 10 billion to 67 billion dollars. (Reports on Chile, Nicaragua and Lima. Appendix 1: Documents 1 and 2.)


The OAS countries are forerunners in the world in adopting the 1994 Inter-American Convention to Prevent Violence and Abuse against Women, which has already been ratified by 26 of the total of 34 member states. This is also a rarity amongst international conventions as it is written in understandable language, the women pointed out.

However, the discussion on legislation brought up numerous examples of the fact that development in this field remains at an early stage in the region. Abortion persists a major problem because, inter alia, churches have created obstacles to both birth control and the liberalisation of abortion laws. It is practically impossible to get an abortion, including in cases where the pregnancy arises from rape. There are more than ten countries with an existing law under which the rapist is not punished if he promises to marry his victim. In Peru, even perpetrators of gang rapes have escaped without consequences when the woman has been forced, through threats and intimidation, to accept the marriage proposal of one of the rapists.

It has been necessary in the Latin American conditions to establish separate police stations with women police officers investigating crimes against women because rape victims could get raped again when seeking help from male police officers. Such police stations have existed for years in, inter alia, Brazil, and this has considerably improved women’s legal position. (Appendix 1; Documents 3 and 4.)

Although male violence threatens women in all countries, there are great differences between the situations mentioned. The South American "macho culture" is a world very different from certain other regions. It is possible that violence in the Latin world is more common and open than in Europe. However, the underlying notions and attitudes giving rise to violence may be the same, after all. There still remains a great deal to be done for the protection of women through legislation and other means in Latin America, with issues already passed in other regions still remaining current in those countries. But this may, after all, only be a question of different stages in time and substance, albeit great ones.


US First Lady Hillary Clinton gave an extremely direct and emphatic speech based largely on information and experiences she received during her recent visits with President Clinton to four Latin American countries. She also spoke very openly about how closely violence has touched her own family. As a little boy, her husband had to witness her mother being abused by his stepfather. It was only when the boy grew big enough to defend his mother that she had the courage to stand up to confront her husband’s violence. "It is only when men - from the level of the men of the barrio to the level of the men of the Presidential palaces - join hands with us to stand against violence against women that we will know our societies have truly been transformed," she said.

Consequently, President Clinton has a very personal motivation in the actions he has initiated in the USA. The issue of violence against women is now being addressed as part of the US foreign policy. In 1994, the President fought for the Violence Against Women Act which combined tough new penalties for offenders with funding for shelters, counselling services, public education, and research to help the victims of domestic violence. He has also changed the immigration laws so that legal women immigrants no longer have to choose between staying in an abusive relationship and deportation. Under the new law, women may self-petition to become legal, permanent residents of the United States.

President Clinton has also started the Office of Violence Against Women in the Department of Justice, and he appointed a distinquished and experienced woman to head it. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a 24-hour-a-day toll-free National Domestic Hotline, so that those in trouble can find out how to get emergency help. During the first year, the hotline received more than 100,000 calls from 50 states.

Hillary Clinton also brought a new dimension to the discussion on violence against women: "Domestic violence is not just an assault against a citizen - it undermines democracy itself. For so long as women are held back from full participation in the lives of their countries by any means - including by the kind of violence women disproportionaltely suffer - democracy will remain incomplete."


In this conference, discussion on actions mainly meant discussion on helping the victims through conventional means. The focus was placed on victims instead of the perpetrators of violence. Providing shelters and care for women, creating and strengthening women’s mutual aid networks and organisations, informing women on services available, and teaching women to seek support and protection were dealt with. Campaigns and political actions to influence legislation were also discussed.

Only one speaker, Francisco Cervantes Islas from Mexico, told about working with men in order to enable them to abandon violence. However, he described this as extremely difficult because "abandoning violent behaviour would entail abandoning being the kind of man that he has been brought up to be all his life." (Appendix 1: 5 - 9.)

The possibilities of school and public education were discussed as methods of combating violence and changing attitudes. Peter Jaffe spoke about the work of London Family Court Clinic in Canada specialising in crime among children and adolescents, consequences of domestic violence on children, and intervention and prevention of violence against women. Based on the material provided, the operations of the clinic appear excellent, given that research on the problems of children exposed to family violence is generally very scarcely available. In June 1997, the clinic arranged an international conference on the subject with some 700 participants.


A great number of representatives of the media from the Americas took part in the conference. Their presentations gave rise to dicussions about the role, effects and opportunities of the media with regard to combating domestic violence. It was noted that the media is an intensive part of today’s culture both in depicting violence and the formation of attitudes. Naturally, a lot of criticism was given to the way the media present violence and thus shape attitudes in the wrong direction.

The representatives of the media gave several dramatic examples where persons and cases brought into public awareness through the media have generated a stormy debate on violence against women, and have therefore even contributed to the development of legislation. Jim Landers from Dallas Morning News told about his newspaper’s role in an international campaign resulting in the adoption of violence against women as a major theme in the UN Conference on Human Rights in 1993. Consequently, the paper was awarded the Pulizer Price for its contribution.

There were also plenty of examples of women’s contributions in the media, and the possibilities of using the media for information among women. Inter alia, Beverly Anderson-Manly from Jamaica told about "women’s breakfast club" on the radio hosted by herself and with an entire hour of broadcasting time every weekday.


The new approach to violence against women emphasised in this report was not given major attention at the IDB conference. The Executive Vice-President of IDB, Nancy Birdsall, however, underlined it in her important conclusion at the end of the first day of the conference. First, she referred to the fact that some have wondered why a bank would adopt an issue like this as a major policy. Her answer was a counterquestion: How could a bank not adopt the issue as a central policy in Latin America?"

Nancy Birdsall emphasised the fact that, fundamentally, violence is not a women’s problem but men’s, and thus the issue must be expressly raised with men. In her opinion, men must be brought back to families, to accept responsibility for their own behaviour and share the family responsibilities equally. Her speech seemed to reflect the views of the other directors of the bank on the issue, too. For instance, Mayra Buvinic, the Director of the Women in Development (WID) Unit of IDB, was clearly interested in the approach emerging particularly in the Nordic countries.

A high-profile conference on domestic violence organised by a development bank is, per se, something radically new in the Latin world. The General Director, Enrique Iglesias, himself showed a good example to the male directors from the member states by emphasising the importance of the issue of violence in a very personal and convincing manner. In his final speech, he stated what he wishes the bank to do in the future:

"Social and domestic violence must be taken seriously - we shall take it up with the Governments." "Domestic violence is not simply cultural - it is simply criminal," he quoted Hillary Clinton. He continued by saying that to address the issue is a ‘must’ for the bank, and that the task ahead is utterly important. The Conference has been greatly beneficial in bringing the issue to the decision-making level in the bank. He also referred to the programmes the bank intends to launch in order to strengthen citizens’ participation in addressing the issue in the region of the bank.


The Expert Group Meeting Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture of Peace organised by UNESCO in Oslo, Norway, 24 to 28 September 1997, provided a well-needed remainder of the fact that creating a culture of peace to substitute cultures of violence is the fundamental goal of the UN and its specialised agencies, particularly UNESCO. This goal was further brought to everybody’s - the entire world’s - attention on 20 November 1997 as the UN General Assembly decided to declare the last year of the millennium, the year 2000, the International Year of the Culture of Peace.


The topic of the Expert Group Meeting in Oslo comes straight from the UNESCO Constitution but, in practice, it is more directly connected with the "Women and a Culture of Peace" Programme, widening its perspective. "The meeting is expected to contribute to a broadened understanding of gender socialisation within different cultural contexts and its implications for the development of a culture of peace, with a special focus on the socialisation of boys and men," states the Aide Mèmoire of the meeting.

Ingeborg Breines, the Director of the UNESCO "Women and a Culture of Peace" Programme, complemented this in her speech by noting that the meeting was to avoid dwelling too much on violence as such and instead "pool our talents and energy into how to change the deep patterns, structures and root-causes of the culture of violence, and how to overcome the obstacles for the development of a culture of peace." Ingeborg Breines joined in the question expressed by the first woman Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Bertha von Suttner (1905) in her book Down with the Weapons: "How to teach and learn active disgust for war?"

UNESCO had already presented to the Beijing Conference a statement underlining that violence against women and violence at war are inextricably linked. The statement goes directly to the point in underlining that,

"To combat war as the ultimate expression of the culture of violence, we must address issues such as violence against women in the home, acts and reflexes of aggression and intolerance in everyday life, the banalisation of violence in the media, the implicit glorification of war in the teaching of history, trafficking in arms and drugs, recourse to terrorism and the denial of fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms."

And the statement concludes that, "Only together, women and men in parity and partnership, can we overcome obstacles and inertia, silence and frustration and ensure the insight, political will, creative thinking and concrete actions needed for a global transition from the culture of violence to a culture of peace."


For a long time, the women’s peace movement, feminism and women’s research have been raising new issues regarding gender and peace. Men are now invited to join in the discussion in order to find new perspectives on masculinity, violence and peace, so an opening is being made for the contribution of men’s research to building a culture of peace.

This Expert Meeting in Oslo was one of the UNESCO efforts towards the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the third one in the series of meetings including the one on Women’s Contribution to a Culture of Peace in Manila in 1995 and the one together with INSTRAW on Political Decision Making and Conflict-Resolution, the Impact of Gender Differences in Santo Domingo in 1996. The purpose of these three meetings was to produce proposals for the UNESCO Programme and Budget for the biennium 1998-1999, and the elaboration of elements for the UN Declaration and Plan of Action for the Year for the Culture of Peace 2000.

The UNESCO Expert Meeting in Oslo was organised with the support of the Norwegian Government and hosted by the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO. The Council of Europe and the Nordic Council of Ministers also participated in arranging the meeting. A total of 17 experts had been invited, and resource persons from different continents and representatives of concerned organisations also took part in the meeting. The foreign and Norwegian observers included, there were a total of 60 participants from 30 countries. Thirteen of the experts and resource persons were men and ten were women. (A list of the papers presented; Appendix 3.)

Oystein Gullvåg Holter from Norway was appointed as the Chairperson and Robert Connell from Australia as the Rapporteur of the Expert Group Meeting; both pioneers of gender research on men.*


It is essential to the development of the theme of a culture of peace that violence is seen in a diversified and holistic way. For instance Michael Kaufman, the Canadian founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, defines violence seen from this perspective as follows:

  • It is the individual man, raising his fist at his wife.

  • It is the gang of boys, cheering on the fight in the middle of a tight circle.

  • It is the young man on a date, acting without regard for the desires of the young woman he is with.

  • It is the man, pushed by rage or fear, driving his car to his death.

  • It is the physical or verbal attack, on another man, because of his sexual orientation or religion or skin colour.

  • It is the gangs of men - we call them armies - who have been commanded to view each other as less than human, and to view civilians as something even less.

  • It is violence on the playing field.

  • It is the structural institutionalisation of violence in our factories, in the design of our cities, in the rigid hierarchies of education, work, politics, and in the privileges confereed by accidents of birth: our colour, nation, and physical well-being.

  • It is, perhaps metaphorically, perhaps not, our relationship to our natural environments.

  • It is men’s violence in its myriad of forms.
    Kaufman’s analysis of a response required in order to challenge men’s violence is very similar to that presented above by the Norwegians. He states that this response should include:

  • the dismantling of the structures of men’s power and privilige;

  • the redefinition of masculinity or, really, the dismantling of the psychic and social structures of gender that bring with them such peril;

  • organising and involving men, as it has involved women, to reshape the sexual organisation of society, in particular, our institutions and relations through which we raise children;

  • activities that involve men and boys in actually challenging themselves and other men to end all forms of violence.

(Additional information on the White Ribbon Campaign: Information Note No 1)

Analogies to women’s actions in the feminist movement were drawn in several presentations in this meeting as well as earlier, in the seminar arranged by the Council of Europe. Men are urged to learn from women. In Robert Connell’s words:

"Feminism, now a diverse global movement, put women’s issues on the table, and there is a growing realisation that most ‘women’s issues’ must also be issues about men. Unequal wages, gender-segregated jobs, public child care, segregated or unequal education, unequal health care, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexism in the media - all are issues issues that impinge on women, and are mainly raised by women, but centrally concern men’s practices.

At the same time there are gender issues about practices that mainly impinge on men: violence among men, competitiveness and the need to prove masculinity, male-to-male sex, smoking, risk-taking at work and industrial injury. Questions are now being raised about how masculinity is implicated in a range of social problems: including the literacy difficulties of young boys, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the high rate of road deaths among young men, corporate crime and environmental damage." (Connell, 1997)


The paper presented by Robert Connell in Oslo, "Arms and the Man", is the first paper with an actual gender analysis on the globalisation of world trade instead of merely studying its implications on women. To avoid unreasonable and stereotypical generalisations, Connell uses the plural term ‘masculinities’ throughout his paper, expressing the fact that, in the same way as femininity is diversified, there are several forms of masculinity.

In his paper, Connell discusses the World Gender Order and the globalisation of masculinities alongside with all other trends of globalisation. Colonialism disrupted the traditional gender structures together with so much else.

"World politics today is increasingly organised around the needs of transnational capital and the creation of global markets. Neoliberalism speaks a gender-neutral language of ‘markets’, ‘individuals’, and ‘choice’, but has an implicit gender politics. The ‘individual’ of neoliberal theory has the attributes and interests of a male entrepereneur, the emphasis on competition creates a partcular kind of hierarchy among men, while the increasingly unregulated world of transnational corporations places strategic social power in the hands of particular groups of men. Here is the basis of a new globalising masculinity."

The hegemonic form of masculinity in the new world order is the gender practices of the business executives who operate in global markets, and the political executives and military leaderships who interact (and in many contexts merge) with them. This form of masculinity is marked by increasing egocentrism, very conditional loyalties (even to the corporation), and a declining sense of responsibility for others (except for purposes of image-making). These men are characterised by a limited technical rationality ("management"), and by an increasingly libertarian sexuality with a growing tendency to commodify relations with women (reflected in pornography, now generally provided in businessmen’s hotels, and sex tourism).

Robers Connell calls this "transnational business masculinity". Business executives are not personally violent, but their ascendancy creates conditions for violence (eg inequality and dispossession) and they support exemplary masculinities (eg those of commercial sport) which are directly violent.

"International politics and transnational business is still almost totally dominated by men, and is culturally masculinised. The neoliberal politics associated with transnational business masculinity has undermined the progressive-liberal agendas of sex role reform at the level of the nation-state, in affirmative action programmes, anti-discrimination provisions, child care services, and the like." "It is crucially important for the future of peace strategy."

In conclusion, Connell outlines the task ahead. The task is obviously not to abolish gender, but to reconfigure it. Many of the qualities in the "traditional" definitions of masculinity - eg courage, steadfastness, ambition - are needed in the cause of peace, too. Thus, we should disconnect courage from violence, steadfastness from prejudice, ambition from exploitation. The diversity of masculinities will grow in the course of this reconfiguration. An important task of education is to make boys and men aware of the diversity of masculinities that already exist in the world, beyond the narrow models they are commonly offered.


War and peace were discussed at the Expert Group Meeting, calling them by their true names, and transferring the culture of violence into a culture of peace was dealt with in earnest. This was extremely encouraging and gratifying in today’s atmosphere of double talk on security policy where one thing is said and another, if anything, is meant.

Military institutions are the greatest obstacle to men’s personal growth and to eliminating violence. Several experts exemplified how military training strictly forces men to subordinate themselves and each other. It also teaches and forces the man to swallow his anger about all the bullying as well as sexual and other humiliation he receives from other men. Thus, the principle of ‘dog eat dog’, that another man is always a competitor, a threat, is drummed into their heads. Consequently, men never dare to trust another man, let alone reveal to their "mates" their fears, anxieties, weakness and sensitivity. This creates men who hit and hurt those who are dear and important to them, too.

Michael Kimmel crystallised this by pointing out that, "One is male by birth but it takes a hell of a lot work to become a man and even then you are never masculine enough!" "Masculinity is about anxiety," said Alberto Godenzi. Furthermore, Judith Hicks Stiehm emphasised the fact that masculinity is a lot more vulnerable than femininity, and therefore needs constant strengthening and proof. In her opinion, masculinity is only socially defined; there is nothing men do that women cannot. "Biology is certainly not destiny, but it remains true that women can give birth to and nurse the young while men cannot," she noted.

In addition to Kaufman, Connell, Godenzi, Kimmel and Stiehm quoted above, other exciting names with regard to these issues include Gioia Di Cristofaro Longo from Italy, Knut Oftung and Oystein Gullvåg Holter from Norway, Irina Novikova from Latvia, Georg Tillner from Austria, and Marysia Zalevski from Wales. Of these, at least Connell, Godenzi, Kimmel and Kaufman seem to be names often involved in developing this new approach further. In addition to them, Per Isdahl and Per Are Lökke from Norway mentioned above must be remembered in this context, although they did not participate in the Oslo meeting.

Alberto Godenzi, in particular, underlined the traditional equality perspective and noted that violence in men and women’s relationships cannot be eliminated until economic, social and cultural equality is achieved. Michael Kimmel illustrated such patterns of masculinity in different cultures, the emphasising of which increases violence against women and in society at large. In his opinion, the less gender roles differ from each other the less domestic violence there is.

Knut Oftung’s paper took an interesting review of the situation and development in the Nordic countries, and it also includs an extensive bibliography. Gioia Di Cristofaro Longo spoke about an epoch-making anthropological change and a downright revolution during this century when anti-feminist prejudices have finally been overcome both in public opinion and institutions, even though great cultural resistance still continues to exist. Georg Tillner discussed the relationship between masculinity and xenophobia, and compared xenophobia with sexism. Marysia Zalewski gave an interesting perspective to the traditional male approach to international politics. (List of expert papers: Appendix 2.)

The expert papers presented form a rich and inspiring collection of material, despite their varying quality. In some countries, the approach of this meeting is still practically unknown, even among researchers. Nevertheless, this unevenness also illustrates the prevailing situation. One can only hope that, on the basis of this material and in cooperation with the authors, UNESCO will be able to produce a publication intelligible to all and capable of generating wider discussion on the issues in all countries.


A concluding note and recommendations of the UNESCO meeting were completed during the meeting. An excellent summary is given on the expert papers and discussions, including the basic facts on both the origins of masculine violence and the problems and pitfalls related to its elimination. The report presents themes for research and action implementing a gender approach and for further studies on the interrelationships between masculinities and violence.

The report provides good examples and ideas for action which are already used in different countries and that others could adopt. The wide-spread Canadian White Ribbon Campaign to end men’s violence against women, which has already spread at least to the USA, Norway and Australia, is mentioned again. In Australian schools there are programmes targeted specifically at boys, dealing with violence in relationships and guiding boys to deliberate about the fundamental questions involved in masculinity.

The report acknowledges that it is too early to develop a comprehensive strategy for change but some key principles can, however, be outlined. A way to move beyond gender polarities must be found while also developing separate gender-specific programmes for men and women. Both men and women should participate in the formulation of these programmes. We must learn how to talk to boys and men without making them feel accused. It is not enough that school and adult education deal with gender roles, violence and peace in certain subjects - these issues must be appropriately integrated into all curricula.

Certain issues were put on the table with a view to further discussions and research. These included:

  • How far the institutional masculinity of the state and corporations negates the effects of women’s arrival in management and political leadership positions.

  • To what extent violence arises from the fragility of masculine identities.

  • The role of shame and humiliation in the origins of men’s violence, an issue that appeared in many of the case studies discussed. Humiliation might not happen so easily if it were not for exaggerated ideas of masculine honour, an issue needing careful examination.

In comparison with the excellent concluding note, the recommendations presented in the report were left quite general and feeble.

Work with men against violence

was deemed successful only in the context of a broad movement towards gender equality and nonviolence. Accordingly, it is essential to continue and strengthen the policies and initiatives currently being pursued to reduce violence, promote demilitarisation, increase economic and political equality between women and men, combat discrimination of all kinds, promote creativity and peace-related cultural manifestations and works of art, and disseminate the ideas and techniques of a culture of peace.

Measures regarding parenthood should include

supporting initiatives which stress that men have responsibility for child rearing; supporting family planning programmes; encouraging all countries to adopt state-supported paternity leave, in addition to maternity leave, and encouraging trade unions, professional associations and corporations to suport such policies.

With regard to education,

    UNESCO should support school programes by

    - developing an international curriculum resource kit on diverse forms of masculinity and on men in relation to a culture of peace;

    - organising pilot projects for teacher training in effective methods against discrimination and violence;

School systems should

- provide training for boys, girls and educators in conflict resolution skills, emotional expressions and inter-group communication;

- develop curriculum resources and textbooks depicting nonviolent and non-aggressive behaviour of men.

Community-based groups and movements which involve boys and men in exploring changes in masculinity should be supported, and the organisation of nonviolent sports instead of violent ones should be promoted.

With regard to police and military,

the United Nations should develop a gender-sensitive training programme for the personnel of peace-keeping missions; police forces in all countries should develop a gender-sensitive approach to the policing of domestic violence; military and police organisations should include negotiation skills, gender sensitivity and human rights education in the training of all personnel. UNESCO should encourage all countries to offer community service work which either replaces or is an alternative to military service.

With regard to combating violence against women,

community-based programmes among men and boys to prevent violence against women should be supported; programmes for male batterers based on accountability to women in their community should be encouraged. UNESCO should compile an international directory of resources and men’s organisations working to end violence against women.

Follow-up to the Oslo meeting should include

translation and dissemination of documents, consultation with home governments and educators by participants, regional meetings and, in a year’s time, re-convening on the Internet of the Oslo participants to discuss progress. (The full report: UNESCO, 1997.)


Following this new analysis, one arrives at a realisation of the totality of the patriarchy until now. Thus, it has not occurred to men themselves or even to the majority of women that the prevailing male gender image and men as the the prototype of "man" could be questioned, that men’s behaviour, their ways of expressing their sexuality and their values and policies could be interfered in. The male personality and, specifically, male sexuality has been so "sacred and untouchable" that questioning and interfering with it has been unthinkable. This "untouchability of men" is illustrated by the fact that even violence against women has been viewed as women’s issue, and measures to address it have been restricted to helping and supporting the women victims of violence.

However, the facts are indisputable. Opening the Oslo Expert Group Meeting, Ingeborg Breines stated: "We speak about the problems of violence in general terms, about criminality and youth gangs, without specifying that to an overwhelming degree it is boys and men that are topping these statistics. Men’s life expectancy is lower than that of women, men are more accident-prone, they fill prisons and top criminal statistics, and men are the ones that almost exclusively take the decisions that lead to armed conflict and war. The average figures from Europe, the USA and Australia show that men stand charged for 80 to 90 per cent of all crimes of violence."

"So do we have to consider men a risk factor: for themselves, other men and women and for society at large? Do we socialise women for the culture of peace (be caring, sharing, moderate and communicative) and men for the culture of violence and war (being tough, over-decisive, forceful and aggressive)? If so, how can we best change these patterns? Are men like dinosaurs, as stated by the British author Faye Weldon, will they die out if they do not change?" Ingeborg Breines continued guestioning.


The case being such, it is no wonder that feminist analysis and research were initially treated as some kind of sacrilige. Women began to express doubt and ask questions about issues that formerly had not even occurred to anyone, let alone anyone having asked them. Against this background, current developments are truly revolutionary. There has been an emergence of men who have dared to read and listen without prejudice to women’s questions and who have realised that they make sense, that they are relevant to men, too. And now these men are continuing to rethink these issues for themselves and for other men in general.

What is critical about the new approach to violence against women is that it is now seen as part of the overall violence of the male culture/patriachy. Attention is paid to the root-causes instead of concentrating on just one - albeit common and destructive - manifestation of violence, the type targeted against women. Violence is part of the current masculine culture that is destructive to men themselves and to culture at large. However, many believe that domestic violence is the ‘father’ of all other forms of violence: violence in the streets, sports fields, among men, in acts of terror and at war. The worst dictators of this century have been victims of domestic violence as boys, they have grown up amidst violence.

Almost all the researchers and experts at the conferences described in this report saw a connection between violence against individuals and the international violence of wars: they classified them under the same culture of violence. Accordingly, violence against women is a peace issue. This connection was recognised in the United Nations system as early as in the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women adopted in 1985. The Beijing Platform for Action regards it as self-evident, and it is also underlined in the UNESCO statement to the Beijing Conference. Women’s peace movement has focused on this connection from the late 1970s and early 1980s, the years of the birth and peak of the feminist Women for Peace movement.

The Norwegian male researchers call their type of thinking in this issue pro-feminist. In these conferences, there were also many other men who emphasised the fact that it is worth men’s while to listen to the feminist movement and learn from it. The best gender analyses carried out by the feminist movement and women’s research apply to men, too.

It is now men’s turn to carry out gender analyses of their own lives and their position in culture and society. This is likely to enable them to discover the reasons why life in the current masculine role is so often confined, unsatisfactory and problematic. Men should also study how culture and society, from their viewpoint, should be changed to release them from their own straitjackets. It is worth men’s while to join in the deconstruction and reconstruction project already being carried out by women’s movement and women’s research. The building of a culture of peace needs both men and women.

In the Nordic countries, particularly Norwegian male psychologists have broken new ground in analysing the causes of men’s violence and developed therapies that have already given excellent results. In Sweden, representatives of men’s research have already entered into dialogue with women’s research. In Finland, too, therapies for the treatment of violent men have been developed and successfully experimented with.


In order to effectively reduce violence and gradually minimise it among the human race into merely an exceptional phenomenon or disordered behaviour, violence must be addressed in several ways and at various levels as appropriate. The conferences and presentations discussed in this report have brought up at least the following ways of addressing the issue:

- Analysing the different forms of masculinity; revealing the violent forms, and working towards changing them;

- Revealing and questioning the values promoting or glamorising violence - competition, hardness, insensitivity, idolising the winners at war, sports and business life;

- Analysing and questioning the male roles and ideals, "the male honour" prevailing in the male culture;

- Profoundly transforming the upbringing of boys;

- Developing and valuing fatherhood; and developing and introducing to men and boys "good" fatherhood skills and qualities;

- Integrating the gender perspective into school education for creating awareness of the different positions of boys and girls within the family, in culture and reproduction, and for the advancement of their growth into balanced personalities and into men and women with mutual respect;

- Developing legislation on violence against women for criminalising it in all its forms and providing women with all possible protection when facing violence or being threatened by it;

- Increasing the number of shelters for women and giving every support to their work- they will remain necessary for quite some time;

- Helping men to abandon their violent behaviour by establishing support and therapy services and by developing appropriate therapies;

- Encouraging men to establish their own groups and voluntary activities to combat men’s violence against women, and providing support for such movements;

- Revealing violent and aggressive competitive sports - including boxing, ice hockey, car racing - and protesting their promotion in the media and in the upbringing of boys both in the home and at schools;

- Developing and strengthening security structures based on cooperation, interaction and mutual trust to substitute security policies based on the military and arms;

- Abolishing obligatory military service; adopting voluntary military training and developing alternative or substitute forms of community service as steps towards a culture of peace where soldiers are not needed;

- Increasing the proportion of women in politics, foreign policy and international decision-making;

- Promoting and further securing equality between women and men both through legislative and administrative means and through influencing public opinion and shaping attitudes and values, thus building a culture of equality and peace.

Violence against women cannot be eliminated until real equality between men and women in private lives, politics, working life and culture at large is achieved. This opinion was repeatedly emphasised in the speeches, discussions and recommendations at all these conferences. However, merely technical or statistical equality will not suffice: we must achieve a situation where men acknowledge women’s equal human dignity despite their differences and discover new, rich masculinity with all the possibilities entailed therein.


As if to reach a culmination of all the recommendations and propositions agreed upon in the conferences discussed in this report, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously decided in November 1997 to proclaim the last year of this millennium, the year 2000 International Year for the Culture of Peace (A/52/L.15). At the same time, a resolution was adopted, inviting the Director General of UNESCO to prepare the drafts for a declaration and a plan of action for the Year of the Culture of Peace. Their substance is likely to be largely based on the conclusions and recommendations prepared in the conferences and meetings discussed above, including the latest UNESCO Expert Group Meeting held in Oslo in September 1997.

All of us in the UN member states can work towards the dawning of an entirely new Millennium for the Culture of Peace in the year 2000.


Connell, R W: Men in the World: Masculinities and Globalization. Address to Colloquium on "Masculinities in Southern Africa", University of Natal - Durban, 2 - 4 July 1997.

Council of Europe: Promoting Equality: A Commen Issue for Men and Women, International Seminar; Strasbourg, 17 - 18 June 1997. Proceedings, EG/SEM/MEN (97) 6.

Council of Europe: Final Report of the Group of Specialists for Combating Violence Against Women. EG-S-VL (97) 1, Strasbourg, 25 June 1997.

Hearn, Jeff: Men and Men’s Violence to Known Women: Research, Policy and Change in the UK. Lecture at the Seminar of Finnish Council for Equality, Helsinki, 24 - 25 November 1997.

Holter, Oystein Gullvog & Aarseth, Helen: Mäns livssammanhang. Bonniers, Stockholm 1994.

Isdal, Per: Men who use violence against their wives. - Theory and treatment. Lecture in the Baltic-Nordic Conference "Men and women in Dialogue", Valmiera, Latvia, 7 - 10 August 1997.

The IDB Special Report: Domestic Violence, 1997.

Lorenzen Jörgen & Lökke, Per Are: Men’s violence against women: the need to take responsibility. Report to the Council of Europe International Seminar "Promoting Equality: A Common Issue for Men and Women", Strasbourg, 17 - 18 June 1997.

Lökke, Per Are: On kön, våld och fadersfrånvaro. Lecture at the Conference arranged by the Swedish Ministry of Labour, Stockholm, 15 January 1997.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Fourth World Confrence on Women, Beijing, 4 - 15 September 1995. United Nations publication DPI/1766/Wom - February 1996 - 30M.

UNESCO: Women’s Contribution to a Culture of Peace, Expert Group Meeting, Manila, 25 - 28 April 1995. DRG-95/WS/6.

UNESCO: Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture of Peace. Report, Expert Group Meeting, Oslo, 24 - 28 September 1997. CAB-97/WS/5.


1. The White Ribbon Campaign is a movement of men working to end violence against women which was launched in Canada and has spread widely since. The campaign was initiated in the event of the second anniversary of the massacre where a young man shoot dead fourteen female students at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique campus. Within six weeks of the launching of the campaign, some 100,000 men were estimated to wear a white ribbon to as a personal and public pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. Later on, this movement has grown into the largest effort in the world of men working to eliminate violence against women, and it has spread at least to the USA, Norway and Australia.

Further information on the campaign is available Michael Kaufman’s Web Site:

2. A.S.A.P. - A School-Based Anti-Violence Program operates in Canada in association with London Family Court Clinic, and offers a compehensive resource kit for teachers and schools interested in starting the work against violence. "This is not a curriculum! This is a road map for anyone - from schools to clinics and community-based agencies." The kit can be ordered from: London Family Court Clinic, 254 Pall Mall Street, Suite 200, London, Ontario, N6A 5PQ, Canada. Tel: (519) 679-7250; FAX: (519) 675-7772. Attention: Ms Karen Rhiger.

3. Alternative til Vold - Alternative to Violence. A Norwegian research and treatment centre for men seeking to abandon their violent behaviour. Established in 1987, and the first of its kind in Europe, the Oslo centre has five permanent psychologists providing professional help for men, most of whom seek treatment on a voluntary basis. The therapy can last from ten hours to three years. So far, almost 1,500 men have sought help from the centre.

Address: Korsgate 28 B, 0551 Oslo, Norway.

4. Stopping Violence Services (SVS) is centre that has operated in New Zealand since 1983 with the objective to end men’s violence against women and children by providing men with SVS Programmes and their partners and educational groups with individual support services. The centre has also provided a support and treatment programme for women since 1991. The motto of the centre is "A slap in the face is no solution!" Some 750 people are using their services every year.

Address: SVS, 160 Manchester Street, POBox 774, Christchurch, New Zealand; Tel: (64) 356 6266; Fax: (64) 365 6180.

5. The National Compadres Network is a Californian network of professional Latino/Chicano men, aiming at transferring the macho identity into a "hombre noble" identity, and rejecting substance abuse, violence against women, child abuse, teenage pregnancies and gang violence. "A noble man" seeks to live in a way that provieds good example to younger men and helps them to outgrow the features currently seen as characteristic of a macho man. The network can be contacted through Jerry Tello; Tel: (818) 333-5033, or Patrisia Conzales & Roberto Rodriquez, PO Box 7905, Albq NM 87194-7905; Tel: (505) 248 0092 or e-mail:
Source: Chronicle Features, San Francisco, 20 June 1997.

6. "Lyömätön linja (‘An Unbeatable Line’) - a chance for men to break the circle of violence" is a Finnish operation started in 1993 with a helpline as well as individual and group councelling. It was originally run by Naisten Apu, an NGO for helping women, and since the beginning of 1997 the organisation responsible for it has been Miessakit, a men’s culture organisation.



  1. Efrain Gonzales de Olarte & Pilar Galilano Llosa: Poverty and Domestic Violence Against Women in Metropolitan Lima.

  2. Andrew Morrison & Maria Beatriz Orlando: The Socio-economic Impact of Domestic Violence Against Women in Chile and Nicaragua.

  3. Martha Mesquita da Rocha: Women’s Police Stations: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

  4. Zarella Villanueva: Legislative Reform and Legal Treatment of Domestic Violence: San Jose, Costa Rica.

  5. Francisco Cervantes Islas: The Men’s Collective for Egalitarial Relationship: Reflections on a Working Experience with Men that Recognize Themselves as Violent. (Mexico City)

  6. Marcela Granados: Treatment and Prevention Networks for Domestic Violence. The Experience of Monterrey, Mexico.

  7. Margarette May Macaulay: Non-Formal Education Program for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. Jamaica.

  8. Enrique Valdez: The Experience of the Hotlines in El Salvador.

  9. Peter G. Jaffe et al: A.S.A.P.: A School-based Anti-violence program.



UNESCO Expert Group Meeting on "Male Roles and Masculinities in the Perspective of a Culture of Peace"
Oslo, Norway, 4 - 28 September 1997



    Robert Connell: "Arms and the man. Using the new research on masculinity to understand violence and promote peace in the contemporary world."

    Gioia Di Cristofaro Longo: "The new male identity between crisis and new redefinition. Towards equivalence of the two genders."

    Alberto Godenzi: "Determinants of culture: men and economic power."

    Oystein Gullvåg Holter: "Masculinities in context: On peace issues and patriarchal orders."

    Michael Kaufman: "Working with men and boys to challenge sexism and end men’s violence."

    Michael Kimmel: "Reducing men’s violence: the personal meets the political."

    Uta Klein: "Our best boys - the making of masculinity in Israeli society."

    Mirjana Najcevska: "The fields of gender exclusivity: constructing the masculine orientation towards violence in the process of education."

    Irina Novikova: "De-constructing masculinity: military and gender relations and women’s memories (World War II, Afghanistan war)"

    Knut Oftung: "Men and gender equality in the Nordic Countries"

    Constantina Safilios-Rothchild: "The negative side of development interventions and gender transactions: impoverished male roles threaten peace"

    Andrei Sinelkov: "Masculinity à la russe. Gender issues in Russia today."

    Svetlana Slapsak: "Hunting, ruling, sacrifying: traditional practices of manhood in the modern Balkan cultures."

    Judith Hicks Stiehm: "Neither male or female: neither victim nor executioner."

    Georg Tillner: "Masculinity and Xenophobia"

    Marysia Zalewski: "Questions about change and the traditional male approach to international politics"


Hassan Keynan: "Male roles and the making of the Somali tragedy"

Bo Loggarve: "Training for peacekeeping operations: how the roles of females and children are integrated in our training"

Robert Morrell: "South African men in the post apartheid era - responses, dangers and opportunities."

Lourdes Quisumbing: "Cultural factors in gender-sensitive socialization towards a culture of peace, and value formation and peace education for military and police forces"

Daniel Rios Pineda: "Searching for our identity"


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