Social Trends and Gender Norms

Individual attitude and behavior change does not happen in isolation; large social, political and economic forces drive change at both the societal and individual levels around gendered social and power relations and masculinities. Over the past 20 years, changes in the outlines of global and regional economies, shifting family structures, patterns of migration and urbanization, and political revolutions and reforms have powerfully shifted and shaped the way men and women relate to one another. These high-level forces affect not only societies’ structural support for gender differentiation or gender equality (via policy, population makeup, and the economic climate), but also men’s and women’s day-to-day realities: their lives and livelihoods. For example:

  • Economic trends, such as the mechanization of agriculture, shifting informal economies and economic crises impact the ways men and women define and live their roles as caregivers and breadwinners;
  • Demographic changes such as shifts in fertility rates, family structures, age of marriage, and population growth rates can affect gender ratios and gender relations of future generations;
  • Migration and urbanization impact the opportunities available to men and women, and reflect risks and opportunities for improved relationships;
  • Political trends and laws, including secularism vs. faith-based politics, and the law and human rights agenda impact the structure in which gender norms are constructed and contested.

Learning aims

  1. Understanding the broad shifts in social trends and policies influencing more gender-equal relationships, and gender equality more broadly
  2. Evidence on how institutions have evolved or become reformed, playing roles in these processes
  3. Evidence on men’s and boys’ actual roles (and behaviors) with respect to efforts at increasing women and girls participation
  4. Examples of apparently successful policy solutions, political or programmatic approaches