HEROES® is a unique project in Germany that engages young men as peer educators, empowering them to dismantle harmful gender stereotypes and create a reflective and unbiased space for young people to discuss important societal issues.
A FEMINIST PROJECT THAT EDUCATES BOYS AND MEN
HEROES® is a feminist project aimed at educating boys and young men to become peer-to-peer educators who stand up for women's rights and against a culture of toxic role models. The focus is eradicating a mindset based in stereotypical images of women and men, where women are portrayed as weak and emotional beings in need of protection by men. HEROES® offers a safe space for men, allowing them to speak freely about their feelings, experiences, fears, and upbringing in relation to "being a man" without judgement, and encourages critical and self-reflective discussion.
DISCUSSING GENDER ISSUES
After around a year of training, the young men are certificated as "Heroes", e.g. peer educators. Heroes visit schools in Berlin each week, starting discussions with their peers about themes like sexuality, freedom, shame, honour, family, and what being a man and being a woman means. The role-play learning activities learned during the one-year training help to break the ice and making complex matters easy to grasp for a young audience. Because the Heroes look, act, and speak just like average youth from any major city in Germany, they are able to reach young people in a way that teachers or other state employees never could. Moreover, the Heroes – who often come from marginalised backgrounds themselves – are also empowered to gain skills and self-confidence.
REFLECTING ON THE PATRIARCHY AND TOXIC MASCULINITY
HEROES® is a unique project because it works with individuals that are believed to benefit from patriarchal structures. By offering men a safe space to reflect on the destructive effect the patriarchy and concepts of toxic masculinity have on themselves, the women in their lives, and society as a whole, this project opens up new pathways towards a society characterised by freedom and equality. As peer-to-peer educators, the Heroes have a direct and intensive impact on the youth of modern German society. In an average year, the Heroes reached an estimated 1000 students directly through workshops, who then carry the new perspectives into their families and circles of friends, and many more through interviews, social and political events, and our social media channels.