The Learning Lunch podcast explores ideas, approaches and social innovations – creating opportunity for non-profit organisations’ teams to discover what others are learning and space to reflect on what these insights might mean for their own strategy and programme implementation.

Gender norms are shared beliefs, ideas and expectations about how men and women are supposed to be and act, according to a classification system that categorises people as either male or female, known as a gender binary. These social principles are internalised from a young age and can shape people’s livelihoods and life chances by giving boys and men the advantage over girls, women and other genders.

Gender norms are not static; they vary according to culture and can change over time. But harmful norms perpetuating inequality and discrimination persist, impacting people’s access to healthcare, education, employment and other economic opportunities. Harmful gender norms also perpetuate power asymmetries between men and women, manifesting in different forms of gender-based violence (GBV). In South Africa,  and the rest of the world, harmful gender norms and discrimination are considered to be key drivers of gender-based violence.

This is why comprehensive strategies aimed at preventing GBV also seek to reshape gender norms in a positive way. Disrupting harmful gender norms requires strategies and programmes that challenge inequalities. It involves rethinking gender hierarchies, roles and binaries while questioning the root causes of inequality and systems of oppression. It must start early in homes, schools and communities. Although parents play a big role in enforcing or disrupting gender norms, adolescents are also heavily influenced by their peers. This is why we need to embed positive norms early in a child’s life in educational spaces. Outside the home, schools are spaces for socialisation and personal growth where young people are exposed to role models.

In this Deep Dive podcast, we look at ways to entrench positive norms from a young age, from children attending creches to young adolescents. We speak to Lindokuhle Msele, Project Lead at Bumb’Ingomso; Kwanda Ndoda, Innovation Manager at DGMT, and Wessel Van Den Berg, MenCare Officer at Equimundo.

Lindokuhle Nosiviwe Msele is a 30-year-old hailing from King Williams Town. A Gender and social activist, they hold a BCOM Honours Industrial & Organisational Psychology (UNISA) and a Bachelor of Social Science (Rhodes University). They are also a Board Member of the LGBTI Centre in KZN and is a 2023 DGMT Fellow. Past honours include a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Youth Advisory Panel (2015 – 2018) and acting as Secretary for the EC LGBTI as (2019 – 2020) as well as being a Youth Capital influencer.

Kwanda Ndoda is an Innovation Manager at DGMT in the All Children on Track Portfolio. A civil engineer come development practitioner, his focuses are the well-being of children and re-imagining masculinity.

Wessel van den Berg works as the MenCare Officer at Equimundo. He is also the father of two young children and sees fatherhood as his primary job. His curiosity about men and care led him to work as a kindergarten teacher, counsellor, activist, and researcher. He is co-founder of the MenCare Global Fatherhood Campaign and the State of South Africa’s Fathers report series. He is passionate about evidence-based advocacy, and has worked on topics such as the prohibition of corporal punishment of children, the promotion of gender equal parenting leave, gender equal and violence free workplaces, and gender-transformative sexual and reproductive health and rights. His doctoral study, completed in Sociology in 2022 at Stellenbosch University, is about the distribution of care work and engaging South African men in a feminist ethic of care. He lives in the Cape Winelands of South Africa with his wife and children.

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MenCare Short: South Africa