Press Release



     NEW YORK, 20 October (DESA/DAW) -- An expert group meeting on the role of boys and men in achieving gender equality will be organized by the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  The Government of Brazil will host the meeting in Brasilia, Brazil from 21 to 24 October 2003.  Particular focus will be on men's and boys' role in promoting gender equality in the world of work and in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

     For the first time in its history, the Commission on the Status of Women, in its forty-eighth session in March 2004, will consider the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality as one of the two thematic issues.  The results of the meeting in Brazil will provide an important contribution to the report of the Secretary-General on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality, to be submitted to that session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

     Gender inequality is an important factor contributing to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  The spread of HIV/AIDS is significantly related to gender relations.  The vulnerability of women and girls to HIV/AIDS is directly related to the attitudes and behaviour of men and boys, as well as to persistent stereotypes about masculinities and about what is appropriate and acceptable behaviour for women.  Ideologies of masculinity and "manliness", which encourage men to display sexual prowess by having multiple partners by stressing aggressiveness and dominance and lack of responsibility in sexual relationships, put men themselves and their partners at risk.  Work relations that are unsupportive of home responsibilities is another factor that results in economic inequalities for women.  Achieving gender equality would also require greater sharing of domestic responsibilities between men and women.

     Experts appointed by the Secretary-General include:  Radhika Chopra (India); Magda ElSanousi (Sudan); Michael Flood (Australia); Alan Greig (United Kingdom); Lars Jalmert (Sweden); James Lang (United States); Linden Lewis (Barbados); Jorge Lyra (Brazil); Jivka Marinova (Bulgaria); Emmanuel Ochora (Uganda); Dean Peacock (South Africa); Stephen Vete (Tonga); and Njoki Wainaina (Kenya).  A consultant to the Division for the Advancement of Women has prepared a background paper in preparation for the meeting.  Representatives of governments, United Nations entities, non-governmental organizations, and academia will attend the meeting as observers.

     Prior to the meeting in Brazil, the Division for the Advancement of Women conducted a four-week online discussion, in which 314 representatives from 70 countries participated.  The virtual discussion highlighted positive roles men and boys played or could play in the world of work (paid and unpaid labour, formal and informal sectors) and in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic (including prevention, treatment, care and support, as well as fighting social stigma).  Examples of good practices around the world demonstrated that sharing of family and community responsibilities by men and boys would lead to achievement of gender equality.

     For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:  Anna Modersitzki, United Nations, in Brazil 20-24 October at tel.: (5521) 325 7007 or (5521) 321 7575, e-mail: modersitzki@un.org; or Leonardo Muarao Coelho e Souze, Government of Brazil, at tel.: (5561) 411 6329, e-mail: lsouza@mre.gov.br; or visit www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/men-boys2003.

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