International Men and Gender Equality Survey – IMAGES NL

man looking to landscape

All kinds of personal and societal problems are related to men and perceptions of masculinity. This applies both to the problems men experience and the problems they cause. Research on these and other social problems often lacks an overarching analysis. Many issues can be traced back to norms and expectations of men and masculinities. This only becomes visible when these problems are considered in connection to each other and approached from an umbrella perspective on gender.

International Men And Gender Equality Survey

The experiences of men as men and in relation to societal ideas about masculinity are studies by IMAGES: the International Men And Gender Equality Survey, an international comparative study coordinated by Equimundo. Conducted in more than 40 countries since 2009, IMAGES shows the relationship between men’s experiences, behaviours and attitudes. As a result, men’s experiences are contextualised and ‘gendered’: perceived in relation to gender norms. In the countries where IMAGES has been conducted, the study has contributed to the development, implementation and upscaling of interventions and policies aimed at involving boys and men in gender justice.

Literature review

With this report [in Dutch], Atria and Emancipator advocate for an IMAGES study in the Netherlands. It addresses various topics and themes that are also covered in IMAGES:

  • gender and gender relations
  • the division of care and labour
  • different forms of violence
  • sex and sexuality
  • mental and physical health
  • the role of government in gender equality policies

The report is based on literature reviews conducted by students from different institutions. They collected Dutch studies that could provide similar information as IMAGES.


This literature review reveals how much research has already been and is being done in the Netherlands on these topics and also some questions that are still open. The main conclusions are that Dutch research exists on most of the topics covered in IMAGES, but that this research lacks cohesion between the different topics, and that findings are not or not explicitly linked to gender norms and attitudes, and especially not to masculinity norms.

Existing research does not take into account the impact of gender norms and perceptions and particularly masculinity norms on people’s experiences and behaviour. Little attention has been paid to the part played by masculinity norms in all kinds of problems. And, consequently, to the positive impact that transforming masculinities could have on those problems and on society as a whole. Hardly any research at all has been done on involving men in gender justice and Dutch men’s views on masculinity. IMAGES could provide an encompassing perspective on men’s lived experiences and place them in the context of gender attitudes and masculinity norms.

Moreover, most studies implicitly regard men’s experiences and masculinity as the norm, without questioning or problematising them. An important step of IMAGES is to challenge that norm. In doing so, IMAGES in the Netherlands should pay explicit attention to differences between men as well as to the specific experiences of lhbtqia+ people. All in all, an IMAGES study could offer a broad insight into the experiences, behaviour and attitudes of men in the Netherlands and serve as an evidence base for interventions and policies that directly contribute to a better quality of life for men in the Netherlands, the people around them and society as a whole.

Credits beeld: Future Nomads