A Story of Contradictions: Understanding the Impact of Social Norms on Nepalese Men and Boys


Adolescence has powerful impacts on the capacities of young people, in part because of the physical transformations brought about by puberty and in part because the place of children in their families and in the wider community changes as they approach life. adulthood (Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) consortium, 2019). In countries where cultural beliefs dictate that female sexuality should be controlled by men, adolescence is an even more difficult stage in life, as the physical changes brought on by puberty invite stigma and censorship, and social standards are becoming stricter.

However, patriarchy also has another face, which remains largely invisible: the detrimental impact of social norms on men and boys themselves – especially the expectations regarding the responsibility that men, as fathers and brothers, should assume towards women in their families. In Nepal, research carried out by GAGE ​​over the past few years reveals that fathers and brothers, who are seen as the “guardians” of women and girls, have a social obligation to protect and provide for their children. their sisters and daughters, but also to ensure that the women in the family adhere to traditional social rules. standards. Because the men in the family are seen as the guardians of the women, they are expected to make decisions for their loved ones. In such situations, the distinction between protection and control is often blurred. In their role as ‘gatekeepers’, men and boys also face strict social norms, which means that their lives are often no less difficult.

Providing the country-specific context to GAGE’s global synthesis on how to work effectively with adolescents in LMICs to promote gender-equitable masculinities, this guidance note addresses some rarely explored questions. It addresses the complexities, contradictions and deprivations in the lives of men and boys, highlighting how fathers and brothers can also experience harmful norms in the family, community and school, in relation to their daughters / teenage sisters / peers.

This brief is based on qualitative data collected between 2018 and 2019 as part of a baseline study of World Vision’s Rupantaran program, a peer-to-peer life skills education initiative in Biratnagar, Nepal.

This thesis is a result of the Gender and Adolescence program: Global Evidence (GAGE)


Ghimire, A. and Samuels, F. (2020) “A History of Contradictions: Understanding the Impact of Social Norms on Nepalese Men and Boys. »Policy Note. London: Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence.

A Story of Contradictions: Understanding the Impact of Social Norms on Nepalese Men and Boys

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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