Public and political participation

Politics and public life has since time immemorial been run by and dominated by men, essentially gendered masculine as an activity.  Indeed women’s right to vote is itself a very recent phenomenon in most cultures (as late as the 20th Century in some European States) and provided the rallying call for the Suffragette movement of early European feminism.  Understanding the roles of men and masculinities in politics prior to the entry of the question of women’s participation, becomes a question primarily of class, caste, professions other social positions, contestations or evolving power dynamics (primarily between men), all of which may be relevant and interesting for appreciating the ‘staring point’ and some of the deeply embedded challenges to gender equality. However, the key questions for this review concern how men and masculinities figure in recent political participation and engagements for gender equality. Thus, they are essentially about:

  • Men’s support of – or resistance to – women’s participation in politics and public life;
  • Institutionalised male privileges, cultures and ideologies as well as their reform; or
  • Political strategies and/or policy solutions involving, (engaging or accounting for) men and boys in struggles for greater equality and democratic participation of all.   

Case studies

'Swapping the stick for a broom: Men supporting women in local politics in India', EMERGE Case Study 4

How the Samajhdar Jodidar project in rural Maharashtra, India, engages men to support women's participation in local politics.

Learning aims

  1. Understanding the broad shifts in the socio-economic and political processes influencing more gender-equal participation in politics and public life and men’s attitudes to this
  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 behaviours) with respect to efforts at increasing women's and girls' participation
  4. Examples of apparently successful policy solutions, political or programmatic approach