Nike Foundation joins cross-sector leaders in first-of-its-kind symposium focused on engaging men and boys in achieving gender equality

March 30, 2009 by PATH

Ilana Finley, Nike Foundation, 503.671.6734
Jessica K. Laufer, Laufer Green Isaac, 310.575.9200.

US$1 million grant to PATH for work with Scouts in China and Kenya highlighted

Beaverton, Oregon, March 30, 2009—Beginning March 30, Brazil will play host to the first-ever, high visibility conference aimed at highlighting the importance of engaging men and boys to empower girls. The Nike Foundation will join more than 450 cross-sector leaders in this unique symposium to explore research and best practices by programs that challenge rigid gender norms and engage men and boys in reducing violence against women and girls, promoting sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and fatherhood and caregiving.

The Nike Foundation will present lessons learned from its work to engage men and boys in the girl effect at the four-day “Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality.”

In addition, the Nike Foundation, with the support and collaboration of the NoVo Foundation, has made grants to programs directed at men and boys. These investments include $1 million to PATH in China and Kenya. In Kenya, the program is designed to test the effectiveness of merit badges for Scouts to reward them for gender equitable behavior, and in China, the effectiveness of a similar program for men in vocational schools and workplaces.

Men and boys are central to defining and shaping the life experiences of girls. In impoverished communities, girls’ education is often replaced by early marriage, childbirth, and high risk of HIV infection and other health threats. The results are irreversible and ensure the persistence of poverty in those communities. Gender expectations and norms are predictors of girls’ opportunities to become supported, educated and empowered in a way that benefits everyone.

“The girl effect is about breaking the cycle of poverty and building a sustainable global economy. Girls and boys are equally critical to the solution,” said Lisa MacCallum, Managing Director of the Nike Foundation. “Our investment in PATH delivers an innovative approach through existing youth organizations and allows us to better understand the effectiveness of merit systems in our work with men and boys.”

The Foundation’s men and boys investments seek to cultivate innovative programming, identify promising interventions and support scale up. These grants aim to shift the harmful gender norms at the community level that impede everyone’s progress in educational achievement, sexual and reproductive health, and economic prospects.

“This grant is an important opportunity to understand what kinds of programs are most effective at transforming potentially harmful attitudes,” said Julie Pulerwitz, Global Program Leader, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis at PATH. “We’re addressing beliefs that in many cases have persisted for generations. That requires innovative thinking and a commitment to evaluating what works best. What we know for sure is that the attitudes and beliefs held by men and boys have the power to shape outcomes for everyone around them.”

Additional grants have been made to the Family Violence Prevention Fund (India), Tostan (Senegal) and Instituto Promundo (Brazil and India).

The Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality will take place in Rio de Janeiro, MRCH 30 through April 3, 2009.

The symposium is cohosted by Promundo (Brazil), Instituto Papai (Brazil), White Ribbon Campaign Canada, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the MenEngage Alliance, and Save the Children Sweden.

About the Nike Foundation and Nike

The Nike Foundation ( is a non-profit organization supported by NIKE, Inc., that is dedicated to investing in adolescent girls as the most powerful force for change in the developing world. NIKE, Inc. ( based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities.

About tells the story of girls creating a ripple impact on their families, communities and nations. Created by the Nike Foundation, it provides the tools for girl champions to spread the word.