Experts speak

(Related to our previous post Engaging men: a timely solution that addresses the root cause of the problem)

Few representatives from organisations that work with men have expressed their opinion and the programme models they have developed based on the approach of engaging men.

International Center for Research on Women

Madhumita Das, Senior Technical Specialist

“ICRW is at the forefront of efforts to transform unequal and harmful social norms that undermine the well-being of women and girls, as well as men and boys. The ICRW program in India called Parivartan and GEMS, are an innovative efforts that drew in young men and boys at the school and community settings through sports to challenge them to question traditional notions of manhood in their society and teach them about respecting women and girls and preventing violence against them. Through research and policy analysis on the role men and boys play in empowering women and achieving gender equality, we identify opportunities for redefining certain notions about what it means to be a man, and changing men’s behaviors related to violence, sexual and reproductive health and maternal and child health. We also are building evidence on how to expand effective programs that engage men and boys so they may have a greater impact on more people.”

www.icrw.org

Centre for Health and Social Justice 

Satish Kumar Singh, Deputy Director

CHSJ has been actively advocating engaging men within a gender equality framework. It has been working extensively with men in different states of India, involving them on issues such as violence, girl child’s education, early marriage, women’s participation in panchayats and governance, etc. During our work, we have realized that training with men needs to address the issue of responsible use of power in the context of equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The need for change has to be motivated with a passion for equality which allows men to examine their own gender based compulsions. Men, who get convinced change their behaviour both in the public and private domain and also start taking public action with others. 

www.chsj.org

Forum to Engage Men (FEM) is concerned about how the society addresses the issues of violence. It is now imperative to address the disease – the deep seated issues of gender inequalities and masculinities that allow these atrocities to happen. Millions of Indian men are impacted by the hegemonic notions that men must express their power through aggressive and violent behaviour. It must be established that it is not a “natural” inclination that makes men violent, but a flawed construction of masculinity that thrives due to the way society promotes patriarchy and its control over women. FEM believes that it is time for men, to engage other men in this discussion, time for men to show that they can lead non-violent lives, and to stand up for women’s right to live free from the fear of gender based discrimination.

www.femindia.net

Arpan

Pooja Taparia, Founder

“I think we need to start early. We need to engage boys. In my experience trying to change attitudes of adults is difficult whereas to help build attitudes of children is far easier. Hence empowerment of boys would be critical to tackle gender issues at least in the coming generation.”

Arpan conducts Personal Safety Education in schools in Bombay with children of age 6-12 years. While the primary focus is teaching children how to protect themselves from unsafe touches/sexual abuse we also emphasise on understanding feelings, building empathy, increasing self esteem, being assertive and other imp life skills. This program is also therefore envisaged to have far reaching effects such as preventing boys from becoming potential offenders in the future.

www.arpan.org.in

Equal Community Foundation

William Muir, CEO

“We believe that not all men are a part of the problem, but all men can be a part of the solution. The government’s decision to launch a new scheme aimed at building character of adolescent boys and changing their mindset towards women is a positive step.”

Equal Community Foundation (ECF) is one of the few organisations in India that empowers men to end violence and discrimination against women. Our mission is to develop, practice and promote high impact programmes and tools that empower men to become agents of change in ending violence and discrimination against women.

Our founding programme Action for Equality is delivered to men in the age-group of 14-17 across 20 communities in Pune, India through partnership with community based organisations, building their capacity to engage men as catalysts for change. The programme moves beyond attitude change to ensure men take personal and collective action with other men they trust, supporting each other to reduce violence and discrimination against women. ECF has developed a strong curriculum and a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to measure the outcomes of our work.  Till date, over 1400 men have enrolled on the programme, 660 men have graduated and we have developed over 200 male leaders who continue to volunteer in their communities on a weekly basis.

www.ecf.org.in

 

 

 

 

 

Empowering men – A timely solution that addresses the root of the problem

Recent press reports indicate the Government of India is planning to develop programmes to change the attitude of men and boys towards women in a bid to tackle the endemic violence and discrimination that women face across India, and most recently highlighted in the tragic rape case in Delhi on Sunday night.

India sits at the top table for most unsafe countries to be a woman, rated fourth after DRC, Pakistan and Afghanistan by an international panel of 213 gender experts. 35% of women in India face gender violence at the hands of men and 37% of men report perpetrating violence against women, (ICRW 2011). These statistics are unacceptable and we need to question if the promoted solutions are tackling the problem as fast as sector professionals seek, the public demand and women deserve.

Two popular solutions developed to end this continued abuse include the development of laws protecting women’s rights, and the women’s empowerment movement. Although both these approaches are essential to ending this abuse and both contributed significantly to achieving the goal, as stand alone solutions they are not securing women’s rights.

Current laws are largely comprehensive in their coverage of issues of violence and discrimination against women, however the same laws are not implemented effectively on the ground. Furthermore, a lack of civil participation means that the implementation of these laws is not being demanded, and is still not a priority for government.

The women’s empowerment approach, in its traditional and predominant form, mobilises resources to provide women with more equitable access to basic services and rights. This approach has been effective in empowering women, but it fails to protect women from the discrimination they face from men, because it typically does not engage the men who control resources and make decisions that discriminate or perpetrate violence against women.

One of the approaches that has taken shape globally over the previous decades, but which remains nascent both in policy and practice, is that concept that men must change and become an integral part of the community development process, and that such an approach can enhance and accelerate the women’s empowerment process by ending the discrimination and violence they face. This approach recognises that not all men are part of the problem, but all men can be part of the solution.

There is a growing movement in India consisting of individuals and organisations that accept and promote the role that men must play in solving these issues. These organisations seek to inform policy and make changes on the ground by developing an in-depth body of knowledge from research and grass roots experience. These individuals and organisations will welcome this decision by the Government of India, and will no doubt be seeking the opportunity to collaborate with the relevant departments, ministers and civil servants to develop the most meaningful and practical solutions.

Equal Community Foundation believes that in the future, every organisation that seeks gender equality will engage men in a positive manner to change their attitudes and behaviour towards women. It is only a matter of time before this happens, and news like this suggests that this time may be sooner rather than later.

Other related articles :

Equal Community Foundation: Empowering men – a timely solution!