SELEVER Work with Men’s Groups Shown to Positively Change Attitudes Toward Women 

By Melissa Matlock, Director, Gender and Social Inclusion, ACDI/VOCA  

With rural women and children most vulnerable to poverty and malnutrition in Burkina Faso, and the poultry sector representing a practical path to improving rural household incomes, Tanager is implementing the Soutenir l’Exploitation Familiale pour Lancer l’Élevage des Volailles et Valoriser l’Économie Rurale 2 (SELEVER 2) project to inclusively transform the country’s poultry sector.  

But lasting, inclusive transformation means getting male buy-in on women’s empowerment. And, says Sita Zougouri, director of gender and social inclusion for Tanager’s work in Burkina Faso, “Before men can empower women, they have to be empowered as well.” Zougouri acknowledges this may sound odd. She explains, however, that the heavy cultural emphasis in rural Burkina Faso on males being the head of the household, responsible for all decision-making and supporting the family, brings a particular stress that not all are equipped to navigate—which can negatively impact women if not appropriately addressed.  

SELEVER 2 therefore created male-only community groups as part of its efforts to engage men, enhance women’s economic empowerment, and mitigate against negative outcomes. The Ecole du Bien Etre, de la Nutrition, et de l’Equité (School of Well-Being, Nutrition, and Equity, or EBENEs) provides training on personal topics such as self-esteem and confidence. The training eventually progresses to themes of nutrition, gender, and decision-making. “There are seven or eight modules, but we don’t talk about women’s empowerment until the last two lessons,” Zougouri points out. The last training addresses the idea of sharing power with women and how empowered women enhances household resilience. 

Measuring Concept’s Effectiveness

The EBENE concept was inspired by the Ecoles des Maris in Niger, which has been shown to increase women’s access to reproductive health services. To confirm the concept has translated effectively to the Burkinabé and women’s empowerment contexts, the SELEVER 2 project conducted a survey to measure the changes in EBENE members’ attitudes and perceptions.  

A randomized sample of male EBENE participants and spouses were selected from the project database, across all four regions of the SELEVER project area, Boucle du Mouhoun, Centre-Ouest, Centre-Sud, and Hauts-Bassins. (There were no responses from the Centre-Sud region at baseline as the project had not yet initiated EBEN activities in that region.) The survey asked the project participants to auto-respond to 32 statements around 12 domains using a Likert scale of 1–5 (1=Never; 2=Occasionally; 3=Often; 4=Almost always; 5=Always).  

The survey domains covered areas related to: 

  • Communications 
  • Confidence 
  • Dealing with problems 
  • Decision-making 
  • Entrepreneurial spirit 
  • Household rules and responsibilities 
  • Initiative 
  • Leadership 
  • Learning from success/failure 
  • Nutrition 
  • Teamwork 
  • Women’s empowerment 

and included statements such as, “I am willing to listen to the opinions of others, even if they are different from mine,” “I involve my spouse(s) to make joint decisions in the household,” and “I am willing to help my spouse(s) with her household responsibilities.” 

The survey for the spouses featured similar statements across the same domains. (Spouses were included in this effort to triangulate information and assess if there were any major differences in how the men and women perceive the men’s behaviors.) 

The surveys were conducted three times to coincide with: 

  • Pre-EBENE formation, or the baseline, in May 2022; 
  • Just after EBENE training, or the midline, in March 2023; and 
  • Several months after EBENE training had ended, or the endline, in August 2023.  

Though the number of responses varied from baseline to endline, the same survey was applied to the same sample group of EBENE members and spouses each time.  


  Baseline  Midline  Endline 
EBENE member  167  198  170 
Spouse  160  187  152 
TOTAL  327  385  322 


Positive Themes

A number of themes emerged from the survey: 

Across all domains, EBENE members showed increases in positive attitudes and behaviors as compared to the baseline. 

At baseline, the average overall score ranged from 3.32 to 3.77 across regions, showing that EBENE members “often” engaged in these attitudes or behaviors. Scores increased across all regions and at endline, ranging from 4.3 to 4.6 and showing that male EBENE members “almost always” engaged in attitudes or behaviors.  



EBENE members from Hauts-Bassin showed the greatest change in attitudes and behaviors. 

Men from the region of Hauts-Bassin had the lowest overall average score at baseline at 3.32. At endline, they had the highest overall average at 4.6, demonstrating a large positive increase in attitudes and behaviors.  

“I was also surprised about the results,” Zougouri revealed, noting the level of conservatism typically found in this region and the difficulty SELEVER 2 facilitators had in training the EBENE men. “So I was not surprised with the data from the baseline. But to see [endline] results like this? This shows that the training module package really works.” 

EBENE members and their spouses scored similarly in their responses.  

Across all surveys, EBENE members and their spouses showed similar scores ranking male household members’ behaviors and attitudes (though EBENE members did rate themselves slightly higher than their spouses.) At baseline, EBENE members’ scores were 5.4% higher than their spouses’ scores on average. At endline, this gap between average men’s scores versus women’s scores had shrunk to 3.3%. This is significant because in many mixed-gender women’s empowerment interventions, women’s experience of increased empowerment often lags behind men’s perception of changes in women’s empowerment. The narrowing in the gap between average EBENE member scores compared to their spouses’ scores from baseline to endline suggests that women achieved a meaningful improvement in empowerment. 


  EBENE Member Baseline Score  Spouse Baseline Score  EBENE Member Endline Score  Spouse Endline Score 
Communication  3.7  3.42  4.6  4.45 
Confidence  3.46  3.19  4.38  4.16 
Dealing with Problems  3.67  3.62  4.49  4.41 
Decision Making  3.52  3.27  4.48  4.35 
Entrepreneurial Spirit  3.81  3.78  4.62  4.57 
Household Roles and Responsibilities  3.04  2.73  4.29  4.00 
Initiative  3.36  3.08  4.27  4.05 
Leadership  3.65  3.65  4.52  4.42 
Learning from Success/Failure  3.79  3.49  4.6  4.45 
Nutrition  3.10  2.91  4.29  4.18 
Teamwork  4.16  3.95  4.74  4.79 
Women’s Empowerment  3.17  3.69  4.48  4.65 
TOTAL  3.54  3.35  4.48  4.33 


The domain that saw the greatest positive change in EBENE members’ attitudes and behaviors was women’s empowerment. 

The women’s empowerment domain included statements about men supporting equal rights and opportunities for their spouses. At baseline, EBENE members “often” engaged in these attitudes with an average score of 3.17. At endline, the average score was 4.48, showing that members “almost always” engaged in these attitudes.   

Next Steps on EBENE Work

The survey results confirmed the effectiveness of the project’s EBENE work. There remains more to be done, however. The domain of household roles and responsibilities, for example, remains a domain for improvement in EBENE members’ attitudes and behaviors. While scores rose from baseline (3.04 for EBENE members, 2.73 for spouses) to endline (4.29 for EBENE members, 4.0 for spouses), it nevertheless remained the lowest-scoring domain. 

For Zougouri, the next steps are to expand and refine the EBENE methodology for different male populations, including for younger males ages 15 to 35 (EBENE Génération). She is also looking to adapt the methodology to create EBENE Frontiers, which would engage the husbands of female poultry entrepreneurs across different villages to build healthy attitudes and behaviors, support women’s businesses and empowerment, and mitigate gender-based violence.