Real men are not afraid of women's empowerment!

January 11, 2010

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put it “Violence against women and girls will not be eradicated until all of us – men and boys- refuse to tolerate it”. Globally, men are taking a stand. Kenya’s Men for Gender Equality Now (MENGEN), a member of the Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence Against Women global coalition, stands out as an inspiring organization.  Since 2001, MENGEN has worked to involve men in the struggle against gender-based violence and gender-inequality. To date, the organization has reached thousands of men and women in 21 constituencies across Kenya, championing equality and rejecting violence against women.

During the 2009 global 16 Days of activism against gender violence campaign, MENGEN spearheaded the Men’s Traveling Conference, recruiting male role models across Kenya to oppose violence and to start MENGEN branches in their communities. MENGEN mobilized men and women to sign commitment forms pledging their allegiance to fight gender-based violence; despite meeting heavy resistance in some towns, several police offices and provincial administrators pledged their support.

Activists march against gender violence in Kigali, Rwanda.
Activists march against gender violence in Kigali, Rwanda.

On November 25th, the first day of the 16 Days campaign, Malawi Minister for Gender, Children and Community Development, Hon. Patricia Kaliati, launched the official inauguration of MENGEN in Malawi with a powerful statement, “Real Men are not afraid of women’s empowerment.”

Amnesty International USA could not agree more!

Men can have a huge impact on the struggle to end violence against women, particularly influential role models in the arts or in sports.  For example famed Ivory Coast reggae artist and activist Alpha Blondy recently spoke out against gender violence at a Town Hall meeting in Kigali, Rwanda organized by the UN and the National Women’s Council.

Actors across the board – from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to the United States Congressional leaders pushing the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) through the halls of Congress, to women suffering gross violence in remote villages – are calling men not only to stop the violence, but also to step up as “Real Men” who encourage, rather than condemn, women’s empowerment.

I-VAWA would authorize support for crucial programs designed to increase men’s participation in ending violence and in transforming social norms that condone the oppression of women. We look forward to its introduction, eventual passage and future support for programs engaging men in the struggle against gender violence.