Considering the role of men in gender agenda setting: conceptual and policy issues

Erturk Y.

FEMINIST REVIEW, no.78, pp.3-21, 2004 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Doi Number: 10.1057/
  • Journal Name: FEMINIST REVIEW
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.3-21
  • Keywords: patriarchy, gender order, masculinities, femininities, paradigm, UN Commission on the Status of Women
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The international gender equality agenda evolved into one of mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes. Within this process, the role of men gained increasing attention in the debates on gender equality. This resulted in the inclusion of 'men's role' as one of the themes of the agenda of the Commission on the Status of Women for the year 2004. While this is another step forward in the global efforts for achieving equality between women and men, its potential risks should not be overlooked. Therefore, it is necessary to revisit the concept of gender and carefully assess and monitor how the role of men is included in the agenda. This article starts with the premise that gender inequalities are the product of historically determined gender order in which the differentially assigned male female attributes are unequally structured in layers of privileged and subordinate positions of masculinities and femininities. The concept of patriarchy is brought back into the analysis to capture the interlinkages between the various status hierarchies that lead to shifts in hegemonic forms of masculinity that reproduces itself under diverse and changing conditions. Thus, while the article attempts to account for the generic and universal characteristics of gender inequality, at the same time, it draws attention to its specific socio-cultural manifestations. Finally, policy guidelines are offered for the consideration of the role of men in gender agenda setting. Accordingly, it is suggested that men's initiatives for alternative masculinities are acknowledged and that the questions regarding which men, in what kinds of alliances and for which end are reflected upon in formulating policies.