Empowering Tomorrow’s Advocates: Launching the Young Allies Programme

To echo the United Nations, “the engagement of men and boys in achieving gender equality is crucial". Gender equality is vital for a thriving society, fuelling healthier relationships, well-being, sustainable economic growth, and social progress. However, our survey with IPSOS uncovered the prevalence of a zero-sum mindset. Half of women perceive gender equality as a women's issue requiring minimal male involvement, while a quarter of men, particularly those with higher education or single, believe it puts men at a disadvantage, and almost half of men think women benefit the most from achieving gender equality.

At TWF, we have long recognised that collective effort and the involvement of everyone is essential to achieving gender equality. Men and boys play a crucial role in dismantling the barriers that perpetuate gender inequality. Hence, our Male Allies Programme, now in its 6th year, works with business leaders to advocate for gender-diverse workplaces and lead more balanced home lives.

To sustain long-term change, we also need to engage the younger generation. In 2021, TWF published first-of-its-kind research in Hong Kong to identify barriers hindering young men from adopting equitable mindsets and behaviours busting the myth that the next generation is gender equal. The study reveals that over 75% of participants expressed varying degrees of conservative views on gender roles and negative perceptions of changing gender relations. As one young man shared in the study: “Men should earn more than women do. I prefer my partner to stay home and take care of the children.” Many also felt pressure to conform to societal expectations of an 'ideal' man—successful, morally upright, with a thriving career and a contented family.

Findings like these move us from insight into action.

This Autumn, we launched our #BreakZeroSum Campaign and are now proud to introduce our Young Allies Programme, marking a pivotal step in dismantling zero-sum thinking - empowering university-educated young men to address harmful masculinity constructs and become proactive champions of gender equality. Sponsored by Steelcase and MTR, this ground-breaking pilot Programme aims to cultivate a deep understanding of the pervasive influence of ingrained gender norms and expectations among young men. It goes beyond introspection, emphasising action and practical learning. Participants in the Young Allies Programme are mentored by our Male Allies. Through experiential workshops, including dialogues with women and DEI-focused work-shadowing experiences, these young allies gain the knowledge, skills, and inspiration needed to become proactive champions of change.

Young Allies embodies our commitment to a future free from zero-sum thinking. By deepening our understanding and empowering these young men as advocates for equality, we’re shaping a more balanced world for generations to come.

Join us in breaking the constraints of traditional gender norms and creating an inclusive future where everyone can contribute, regardless of gender.

Here are ways to engage the young men and boys in your life on gender equality:

  1. Lead by Example: Be a role model for gender equality and introduce young men and boys to diverse male role models in non-stereotypical careers, inspiring them to challenge gender norms.
  2. Everyday Actions: Engaging young men and boys in conversations about gender equality is not a one-time event but a continuous journey. Introduce age-appropriate concepts and engage in regular conversations that challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes to help develop a critical awareness of gender issues.
  3. Promote Empathy and Perspectives: Encourage young men and boys to respect and develop their need for connections, vulnerability and emotional capacity.

Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.


Written by

The Women's Foundation