“We will see the emergence of the Delhi Declaration, the first clear blueprint for action on Re-Engaging Men and Redefining Masculinity”- Organizers of the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium, 2014
New Delhi, 3 November, 2014: The 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium, 2014 is being organized, by an alliance of over 400 organizations working with men on issues of gender equality including UNFPA, UN Women, Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ) and Beijing +20, in the Capital from November 10 to 13, 2014. It will bring together researchers, activists, government, donors and many unsung heroes from over 93 countries.
Speaking on the thrust of the Symposium Dr. Abhijit Das, Director, CHSJ and Country Host, stated that it would focus on setting the agenda for men's involvement in issues concerning gender equality and stopping violence against women. This, he added was, “ in response to the unacceptable levels of violence against women and extreme brutality that men, often in groups, take recourse to and the growing urge of thousands of men across the world to redefine and reinvent masculinity and demonstrate their readiness to work for gender equality.”
Taking this further, Dr. Das said that the Key Note of the Symposium clearly states that, “global consciousness on gender issues had changed” following the horrific incident of December 16, 2012, when a woman was brutally gang raped and literally done to death by a group of young men in a bus in Delhi. This incident had also made it amply clear that it is men who “wield power in the world” and “set standards” that are often proving to be questionable. Therefore, it has become “necessary to interrogate and reform dominant masculinities”, he added.
The Symposium will also see the release of a mega study, conducted by International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) in collaboration with UNFPA, on “Masculinity, Son Preference and Intimate Partner Violence in India.” The principle objective of the study, which surveyed 9,205 men and 3,158 women representing both urban and rural men across the seven states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, was to assess the dimensions and determinants of men’s knowledge, attitudes and behavior on issues relating to gender equality, son preference and intimate partner violence.
Giving details, Dr. Ravi Verma, Regional Director, ICRW, said that the Study revealed some disturbing trends. “I was expecting that with education and exposure youth is changing and moving towards equality but this is clearly not the case”. He then gave the example of states like Punjab where, “younger men, when compared to older men, were far more rigid in their attitude and behavior towards women and girls.” What also struck him was that the, “demands of modern economic development was making youth more aggressive and controlling.”
Actively involved in taking initiatives on redefining masculinity to the community, Anand Pawar, Executive Director, Samyak an NGO based in Pune affirmed that as an organization they believed in working holistically on gender issues. “We address these issues at every possible level from the individual, societal, structural to the organizational level,” he stated unequivocally.
As one of the key partners of the Symposium, Dr. Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, UN Women’s Representative for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, meanwhile stressed the point that UN Women’s relationship with the MenEngage Global Symposium could be best described as “a long term alliance towards transforming the social norms that limit opportunities for women and girls and restrict men and boys to certain roles”. Dr Taveres also emphasized the need to “work towards engaging the whole of humanity” to “succeed in achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality for all” UN Women, has been working closely with the Government of India and civil society to set national standards for achieving gender equality, advocates for equal participation of women in all aspects of life.
UN Women is also supporting this Symposium and participating in it as part of its Beijing+20 campaign. The Symposium will provide the platform for discussion of the crucial engagement of men and boys in advancing gender equality, in the context of the review and assessment of the Beijing Platform for Action on its 20th anniversary. The Symposium is an opportunity for UN Women to present the strategic vision of its work with men and boys as gender equality advocates, and highlight the recently launched high-profile HeForShe campaign. UN Women’s Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, will be inaugurating the Symposium.
Ms. Kamla Bhasin, South Asia Coordinator of the One Billion Rising Campaign and well known feminist activist stated that, while the Campaign in partnership with MenEngage is striking the right chord in thousands of young men and women across small towns and hamlets of the country, what has now become inescapable is for men to stand up and be counted in the battle against patriarchy. Explaining this further she stated that, “This Campaign is not about good or ethical men, who have always been integral to our struggles against patriarchy; it is about confronting the more entrenched and die hard conventions and practices that not only define masculinity or mardangi but emboldens them to use their body and perpetuate rape and the worst kind of bodily transgressions on women. Unless men come together and dismantle the billion dollar pornography industry and the equally pernicious billion dollar cosmetic industry and the Barbie-doll industry, gun manufacturing industry and the many mach heroes who glorify violence, there is no way that that the rising graph of brutalized violence against women can be challenged or reduced,” she asserted.
More than 750 gender activists from 93 countries will be participating in this global confederation. Over 400 abstracts for presentation at the Symposium were submitted from around the world. After a rigorous selection process, 100 Abstracts were selected for Oral Presentation and 75 were selected for Poster Presentations.
Thirty three Satellite sessions will be conducted where organisations and collectives from across the world will conduct workshops, skill building sessions and share their work experiences. Some of these sessions will particularly deal with youth issues and voices and an intergenerational dialogue. Participants from conflict-affected countries like Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovinia will speak on the effect of violence on men. There are sessions devoted to promoting new concepts of fathercare; Pakhtun masculinities and the urban class struggle in contemporary Pakistan; and a discussion with the heads of toymaking companies Lego and Mattel. The discussion in the symposium will be based on seven key tracks or themes – Violence; Health and Well Being; Poverty and Work; Care, Relationships and Emotions; Sexualities, Identities; Peace Building, Social Justice, Inclusion; and the Making of Men – from Masculinity to Humanity.
The Symposium includes a specially packaged global film festival by the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) on masculinities, in which 71 documentaries and features have been selected from hundreds of entries. The masculinities film festival will be showcased at the Symposium and in screenings across the country. The key curator of the festival, Smriti Nevatia, will be present at the event.
The Symposium is expected to result in release of the Delhi Declaration, which will provide a roadmap for governments, UN agencies and all other institutions and organizations on men's role in ensuring gender equality. It comes five years after the First Global Symposium, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 2009.
In this context, Dr. Gary Barker, International Director, Promundo and Co-Chair, MenEngage Alliance, stated that: "We hope to come out of the Symposium with a clear blueprint of how changing masculinities must be part of the post-2015 development agenda and to go from lip service that we must 'engage men' to putting the ideas into practice in policies and activism and the daily lives of women and men.”
The opening session of the Symposium will be moderated by the ever-provocative Ms. Shireen El Feki, British journalist and author of the seminal work ‘Sex and the Citadel – Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World.’
Other major participants include the engaging speaker Prof Michael Kimmel of New York’s Stony Brook University, a leading American sociologist specializing in gender studies and founder and editor of the influential academic journal ‘Men and Masculinities’; Greenpeace’s international executive director Kumi Naidoo who first discussed evidence of the relationship between masculinities, environment and climate change; noted academic Lori Heise who played a leading role in getting gender violence into the international health agenda and led the landmark WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence; Sheepa Hafiza, Director at the world’s largest NGO -Bangladesh’s BRAC, who is widely recognized for her role in policy advocacy on gender issues; and the award-winning Nafisa Sadik, currently Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General and former head of the UNFPA and Bangladesh’s Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Tariqul Islam, will also be present.
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