Gender Roles: Changing Mindsets in Togo

GRADH, a member of the Dianova network, participates in a national campaign to promote positive masculinity

Gender roles

Unlike many other countries, women and men in Togo enjoy the same rights, relative to freedom of movement, employment, wages or retirement pensions, however, much remains to be done to change mindsets towards gender equality and a more positive masculinity – Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The Reflection Group of Friends for Human Development (GRADH) is a Togolese non-profit organization that works in the fields of health, education and culture. GRADH is composed of several theatre groups operating in Togo and neighbouring countries. Its strategy is to reach out to the population and communicate with people in order to bring about behavioural changes, particularly in the area of hygiene and health.

GRADH members use theatre performances, skits, stories and songs to get the message across, whether in town and village squares, schools, churches, etc. The organization works in line with government policies on education and health. For years, its main focus has been the fight against sexually transmitted infections and AIDS through joint actions with the government, with very satisfactory results.

At present, GRADH is also committed to changing attitudes towards gender roles, i.e. the specific social expectations of people according to whether they are women or men, or more simply put, what most people consider appropriate for a given gender in terms of relationships, personality traits, attitudes, behaviours, values, etc.

Interview with Eugène Etse, President of GRADH

In Togo, a national qualitative study concluded that there is a hegemonic masculinity, which is harmful to equitable gender relations. According to the online newspaper societecivilemedias: “The norms, beliefs and social practices transmitted by the family unit (…) continue to make men and women believe that the man is a superior being in terms of economic management of the home and everyday activities and that women owe him obedience and submission”.

GRADH campaign

Some of the campaign messages: “My boyfriend doesn’t have to pay for my trip”, “My husband in the kitchen: I’m not ashamed of it in front of my friends and relatives”, “The bill at the restaurant is for both of us” – Photo, courtesy of GRADH, all rights reserved

Conducted by MenEngage – a transnational network aiming to transform patriarchal masculinities and support women’s and LGBTQI rights, racial justice, social justice and other intersecting issues – the study also revealed a passive attitude of acceptance of gender inequalities by women themselves, somehow resigned to the perpetuation of unequal gender norms in society. However, the network felt that there was a great deal of room for improvement with the hope of promoting positive masculinities through various strategies.

Based on this assumption, a first campaign was launched in 2020 on the theme of positive masculinity and parenting, with the support of various partners, such as IAMANEH and Sonke Gender Justice. This campaign was quite successful due to the quality of its messages and communication tools and the number of people reached.

The second campaign was organised by the MenEngage Togo[1], a member of the MenEngage Africa, a network of civil society organizations working in different areas of development, including gender justice, sexual and reproductive health and the fight against gender-based violence. The campaign was launched on the theme of transformative femininity and positive parenting on Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter and Tiktok, as well as on traditional media, with the financial support of IAMANEH and AFAD. In all, this second edition reached more than four million people while reinforcing the achievements of the first campaign.


[1] A network comprising 9 organizations: AFAD, GRADH, GF2D, CRT. Grase Population, Croix Bleue, Cadi-Togo, Girls’Motion