Although the importance of exposing adolescent boys to gender transformative programs has been recognized, such programs are limited in India. Studies that assessed the relative effect of intervening in early compared with late adolescence are even more limited. This article examines the differential effect of exposing boys to a gender transformative program in early and late adolescence on their gender role attitudes and practices.
We used data from a cluster randomized trial of a gender transformative life-skills education cum sports-coaching program for younger boys (aged 13–14 years) and older boys (aged 15–19 years) (N = 962) and used generalized estimating equation model to examine the differential effect.
The intervention had a greater effect in helping younger than older boys to espouse gender-egalitarian attitudes (β = .669; p < .001 vs. β = .344; p < .001) and attitudes rejecting men's controlling behaviors (β = .973; p < .003 vs. β = .453; p < .088), men's perpetration of wife beating (β = .423; p < .002 vs. β = .282; p < .035), and violence on unmarried girls (β = .332; p < .038 vs. β = .306; p < .045). Younger boys had higher odds of reporting that their peers would respect them for acting in gender-equitable ways (odds ratio [OR] = 2.15; p < .003) compared with older boys (OR = 1.78; p < .014). However, younger boys had lower odds of intervening to stop incidents of violence that they had witnessed, compared with older boys (OR = 2.17; p < .03 vs. OR = 2.56; p < .002). These differences remained significant even when difference in regular exposure to the intervention was adjusted.
Gender transformative programs are likely to be more effective in changing traditional attitudes and practices among boys if they target them during early adolescence compared with late adolescence.