Training of Trainers: Engaging Men and Boys in Preventing Gender-Based Violence(Jens Van Tricht & Sandy Ruxton)


Between November 5 and 8, 2016 HasNa Inc. implemented a Training of Trainers project in Istanbul, focusing on Engaging Men and Boys in Fighting Gender-Based Violence. This training of trainers, conducted by experienced trainers and members of the MenEngage Europe Steering Committee – Jens van Tricht from the Netherlands and Sandy Ruxton from the UK – was the second phase of the 2015 Leadership Training for Turkish NGOs Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence. HasNa implemented this project in collaboration with a regional partner: Nurcan Cetinbas from Mus Women’s Roof Association.

There were 11 participants with significant experience (both academic and practical) in social work and gender issues. The ratio of male to female participants was more or less equal. The entire training program was spread out over a period of 4 days, with each day focusing on one broad topic:

  • Day 1: Getting to know each other; personal timelines/story-telling; exploring key concepts (gender, masculinity); types and extent of violence against women
  • Day 2: Links between violence and masculinity; listening to women’s voices; strategies in working with men and boys; what can men do: examples and inspiration
  • Day 3: Sharing good practices; accountability; obstacles; resources; action-planning
  • Day 4: Learning and evaluation


Over the past two decades there has been growing interest in programs to engage men and boys in addressing men’s behavior and transforming their personal and inter-personal relationships. The main focus has been on changing the attitudes and behavior of individual men through educational interventions that give men information, skills, and space to better understand how gender shapes their own lives and relationships. A second focus which is receiving increasing attention is on encouraging men to work as allies with women and women’s groups to tackle violence against women and girls.

Based on these two strands it is important to engage men and boys in gender equality to support women. Some key issues must be identified that help design an effective strategy. There are challenges and risks associated with programming with men and boys, including to women’s safety. This makes it essential that the context of the work is well understood, the principles underpinning this work are clear and robust, and high standards and rigor are applied to decisions about program design. Some of these risks and challenges are as follows:

  • Gender equality is often seen as a women’s issue
  • There is considerable pressure on men to conform to traditional gender norms
  • Often men display an apathy to any kind of resistance or change
  • Hostility on the part of men’s rights activists towards gender equality

What Worked

From the very beginning, the training of trainers was meant to be more participatory and process-oriented, emphasizing mutual co-creation and combining the entire group’s knowledge and resources together. In this respect, the trainers succeeded in creating a safe space considerably faster with a diverse group of participants engaging in dialogue and discussion. This training of trainers was also a pioneering project in some sense because not much work has been done in the field. The trainers wanted to approach this not as an opportunity for them to come in as Westerners and tell the participants what to do or how to think, but to participate in an exchange of ideas and introduce the notion that men could be stakeholders and even part of the solution to the problem of gender inequality. Together, the group addressed the underlying damaging notions of masculinity and focused on the idea of men and women working together in an environment where men are able to truly ‘listen’ to women and recognize patriarchy in their everyday lives and behavior. The training highlighted positive examples from the international community such as the White Ribbon Campaign, a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. It was formed by a group of pro-feminist men in London, Ontario (Canada) in November 1991 as a response to the École Polytechnique massacre of female students by Marc Lépine in 1989.

Areas That Need Improvement

The level and style of training and facilitation skills varied among the participants, and some indicated that it would be nice to include some components of how to design and facilitate a training session within the 4-day schedule. Moreover, there is no existing network or forum in Turkey that allows activists and NGO members to share information and resources, so that was another gap that needed to be filled. A shared vocabulary of terms needs to be developed for all participants. Some participants also expected the training to equip them with specific answers on how to change the mindset of men, whereas this training of trainers was more process-oriented and sought to plant a seed or create a first step in an ongoing effort.


The participants were positive about the approach and content of the training of trainers and expressed their commitment to take the work forward in their own organizations and communities. However, they will clearly require more support. A Turkish MenEngage network might help in this situation, bringing organizations together investing in capacity building, visibility and advocacy, and enabling collaboration.

There were several issues that required further discussion and exploration, such as fatherhood, LGBTQ rights, class, and intersectionality. Some of the multimedia teaching tools also need to be adapted to the Turkish context, in order to facilitate better understanding.

The interactive and participative approach contributed to the goal of creating a safe space where the participants could share their personal and professional expertise and start co-creating new ways of engaging boys and men in fighting violence against women and girls.