On July 14, 2016, Lebanese NGO ABAAD–Resource Center for Gender Equality and Equimundo launched Programme Ra in Beirut with support from the first-ever Womanity Award. The program encourages men to challenge gender-based stereotypes, question traditional ideas of manhood, and contribute to ending all forms of gender-based violence in Lebanon. The launch event for Programme Ra, which hosted over 250 guests from civil society, government, and the media, was the culmination of two years of learning.
Programme Ra – named after Rajol, the word for man in Arabic – is the first adaptation of Program H in the Middle East, marking a milestone in Equimundo’s history. Developed by Equimundo and partners in Brazil over a decade ago, Program H has been widely used around the world in programming to end violence against women and girls. Implemented in more than 22 countries and subject to nine impact evaluations, it has proved highly successful in raising awareness about and transforming gender stereotypes, aiming to create sustainable behavioral change among boys and men in order to promote gender equality more broadly.
Since 2014, ABAAD and Equimundo have engaged in learning visits to the Balkans and Brazil to understand how Program H has been adapted, implemented, and evaluated in these countries. ABAAD used this learning to adapt Program H to the Lebanese context.
Taking into account Lebanon’s refugee crisis, Programme Ra was designed to target young men between 14 and 24 from refugee and marginalized host communities and from both urban and rural areas. As a capacity-building training curriculum for young men, Programme Ra focuses on issues such as nonviolence, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), substance abuse, and gender equality.
ABAAD has further validated the approach with members of the MenEngage Alliance in Lebanon via a workshop with trainers, and conducted pre-testing with young Lebanese men.
According to one of the young men taking part in a Programme Ra training, “Discussing mutual respect, the way that other people think, and how we should respect each other’s opinions were crucial in making me consider changing the way I think and behave with others.”
Another participant said, “I found this training very important because it raised my awareness about a number of topics that I had not previously thought about, especially related to gender and gender equality.”
Programme Ra includes dramatizations, games, and debates that spark individual and collective critical reflection about how men and women are taught to think about what it means to be a man or a woman; the impact of this socialization; and how individuals of all genders can benefit from tackling gender stereotypes, questioning their existing attitudes, and marking new milestones on the path toward gender equality.
According to Ghida Anani, founder and director of ABAAD, “When men and women regard each other as equals who deserve fair and just treatment in the eyes of all citizens as well as in the laws of our country, we will be on our way to reaching unprecedented levels of development, peace, and success in our country.”
View the Programme Ra manual here, and watch a film about the program below.