MERGE for Equality, a MenCare partner in the United States, and its predecessors have a 35-year legacy of engaging people and communities in gender-transformative initiatives, delivering programming that empowers communities to transform masculinity, promote men’s caregiving, and advance gender equality for all.
MERGE for Equality works with a deep understanding of the current reality:
- Boys are born loving, caring, and sensitive.
- Boys are exposed to harmful gender norms and stereotypes, starting at a young age, leading to unhealthy emotional, social, and physical outcomes; academic under-achievement; and inter-personal violence.
- Boys benefit from unearned male privileges starting at a young age – and at the expense of girls, transgender children, and gender non-conforming children – leading to gender inequality in families, schools, and communities.
- And later, among teens and adults, harmful forms of masculinity continue to foster social, cultural, academic, political, and economic under-achievement, disease, and violence.
- We need to change the way boys are socialized in order to create a more safe, healthy and equitable future.
MERGE for Equality is working to create this desired future, where the emotional and social development of boys – starting from an early age – is skillfully and compassionately supported by caregivers and educators of all genders. As a result, boys will thrive personally, socially, and academically, and continue on this path to become men who are compassionate and accountable partners in safe and equitable families, workplaces, and communities.
The MERGE Early Childhood Initiative:
In partnership with three leading early childhood agencies in Springfield, MA – Head Start, Square One, and Preschool Enrichment Team – MERGE for Equality has created a pilot program based on the needs of, and challenges facing, early childhood educators. Key components include:
- Delivery of a two-day Developing Healthy Boys Training, including pre/post program evaluation;
- Delivery of three post-training coaching sessions;
- Implementation of the MERGE Children’s Book Campaign to promote gender-responsive literacy; and
- Collection of data and development of a plan to expand and replicate the initiative.
On November 29, 2017, MERGE will convene the two-day Developing Healthy Boys Training in Springfield, MA for educators and allied professionals in early childhood (ages 0-5), school-age education (ages 6-10), childcare and family services, home visitation, and early childhood education degree programs in higher education. This pilot training will foster the development of gender-responsive knowledge, attitudes, and practices in early childhood educators, with three priority outcomes:
- Participants are trained in a gender-responsive approach to child development, leading to improved teaching practice and engagement.
- Participants are trained in the Whole Book Approach to child literacy, in concert with the MERGE Children’s Book Campaign readings, resulting in strengthened dialogue and learning relationships and increased exposure to gender equity themes.
- Participants apply gender-responsive practices in classrooms and with families, resulting in enhanced social-emotional development.