Uncovering toxic masculinity and the “man box” in the security sector of Ukraine

Date: Friday, September 20, 2019

Students of the National Academy of Internal Affairs. Photo: UN Women/Sergey Korovaynyi
Students of the National Academy of Internal Affairs. Photo: UN Women/Sergey Korovaynyi

A new survey in Ukraine will examine perceptions of gender equality and the role of men and women in the national security and defense sector. UN Women Ukraine is supporting the research as part of a larger global study.

A masculinity study in the security sector is piloted in Ukraine. It will explore the views of the National Police, National Guard and National Border Service employees about gender equality, and their perceptions of the role of women and men in the security sector. This is the first global survey of its kind in the security sector. The findings will be used to help shape policy and legal actions to integrate a gender perspective in the security and defense reform process, remove barriers to gender equality, and improve the conditions of service for women in the sector

Implemented in 36 countries, the International Men and Gender Equality Survey, or IMAGES, was created by Promundo-US and the International Center for Research on Women to build global evidence for public institutions and policies to foster gender equality and raise awareness among policymakers to involve men in gender equality issues.

Brian Heilman shared examples of how changing toxic masculinity improves lives for everyone. Photo: UN Women/Sergey Korovaynyi
Brian Heilman shared examples of how changing toxic masculinity improves lives for everyone. Photo: UN Women/Sergey Korovaynyi

Brian Heilman, Senior Research Officer at Promundo US, explained some of the findings of the global research on masculinity and men’s views on gender equality, during a 16-20 September mission to Ukraine.

“Forty-two percent of men in the US believe that men should be the breadwinners in the family,” said Mr. Heilman. “The men who strongly share the stereotypes of the ‘man box’ tend to be more violent and are more likely to have suicidal thoughts,” he added.

He also interviewed stakeholders in Ukraine’s security and defense sector. The discussions examined masculinity which is stronger and even more toxic in the security sector, where it is associated with physical strength and invincibility, re-enforcing patriarchal attitudes and hindering gender equality.

IMAGES is being conducted by UN Women Ukraine for the first time anywhere in the world, in the security sector. The research came as a request from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in partnership with Promundo, the National Academy of Internal Affairs, and national and international research organizations.

The lectures and discussions with students were organized by UN Women Ukraine under the projects, Building democratic, peaceful and gender-equal society in Ukraine; and Gender equality at the center of reforms, peace and security, with financial support from Norway and Sweden, respectively. The initiative is part of the #HeForSheUkraine solidarity movement that engages men and boys in gender equality advocacy.