Men: a missing factor in SDG 5? A study on gender equality in Kerala with a focus on men`s attitudes towards women
Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) seeks to empower all women and girls by 2030; however, the goal only indirectly mentions men. Is it possible to achieve a goal followed by 156 countries if there is no specific focus on men? Through the literature we know much about women`s lives and struggles throughout the world. However, it is only recently that scholars have attempted to analyse men`s lives and their experiences with gender equality. This thesis attempts to ask the normative question: To what extent should there be more focus on men in the process of achieving gender equality? It follows a case-study on one of the front runners in India to achieve SDG 5 by 2030, namely the southern state of Kerala. With data from a nine weeks fieldwork in Kerala; the thesis seeks to provide insight into what is being done in Kerala with SDG 5, whether the state includes a focus on men, and to understand experiences of men`s attitudes towards women from a rural village. The findings are discussed with the use of theoretical concepts of ‘symbolic violence’ and ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Findings show that SDG 5 does not get any particular attention in Kerala other than the already existing women-oriented programmes, where a focus on both genders through SDG 5 is not immediately visible. A possible focus on men can be located in the realms of gender awareness programmes. Furthermore, insight into the experiences of men`s attitudes in the Village reveals that patriarchal values are persistent in Kerala. Both men and women maintain these values. By following the answers given by the informants, over half of them (both men and women) wishes there to be more focus on men when it comes to gender equality. As this thesis will discuss, it might be time to include a focus on men and their attitudes to be able to attain sustainable development.