Childhood and early adolescence are key periods where ideas about gender equality can become ingrained, as individuals of all gender identities form attitudes, opinions and beliefs – about themselves, about their identity, and about their place in the world. By exploring the lived realities of boys aged 8–13 in sub-Saharan Africa, this report emphasizes that a holistic approach to advancing gender equality must include both girls and boys, engaging boys as allies to achieve gender equality and as supporters of girls’ agency and women’s empowerment, as well as the importance of addressing the specific health and social development needs of boys themselves.

Building on existing data and reports and with new qualitative and quantitative data from experts in the field, this report describes the landscape of challenges and expectations that boys face as they grow older across sub-Saharan Africa, including growing disengagement from schools and education, gendered use of violence against children, the pressures of child labor, and normative expectations around growing up to be strong and self-reliant.

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Executive Summary

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