Main take away from the 2ndMenEngage Global Symposium is that unless we adopt a She +He Perspective we cannot ensure the agency of women gets fully galvanized in the fight for gender equality said the acclaimed feminist Kamla Bhasin
New Delhi, 13 November, 2014: As India comes to terms with the death of 13 young women following botched sterilisation procedures, delegates at the 2ndMenEngage Global Symposium in the capital today issued the Delhi Call To Action, which includes a recommendation that men take more of the responsibility for using contraception away from women.
“Throughout the world sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is considered to be the sole responsibility of women,” said Andrew Levack, Deputy Director, US Programs for Promundo.
“What we know from research is that men who hold more traditional notions of masculinity are less likely to use condoms, less likely to report STI symptoms, more likely to see pregnancy as a validation of masculinity, and more likely to use violence against a partner,” he stressed, going on to say that if men were prepared to take on greater responsibility for SRH, then the likelihood of tragedies such as the one which has unfolded in Chhattisgarh this week might be reduced.
The four day MenEngage Global Symposium saw a coming together of a cross section of stakeholders to catalyze changes in gender norms and entrenched notions of masculinity through work with men and boys.
Speaking about this the country host, Abhijit Dassaid that the Symposium brought together feminist organizations, academia working on gender issues, government and scores of community and civil society organization working on the ground to catalyze change in thousands of men working as auto drivers, members of cooperative society, farmers to cite a few. “We have infused the entire process with a strong spirit of solidarity,” he said
The Symposium concluded with the issue of the Delhi Call to Action which, through a clear set of 10 statements and affirmations, acknowledges gender equality as an essential component of human rights which must be reflected in the post-2015 Development Agenda and urges the full inclusion of men and boys in the struggle to achieve gender justice.
In the light of the paradigm shifts that are envisaged in the global agenda post-2015, PhumzileMlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women, stated that the Symposium assumes great significance and emphasized the need for concerted action. Addressing the gathering of over 1000 delegates from 94 countries she stated: “My friends there is quite a bit of homework for the men of the world as the Symposium confirmed that the real discussion about engaging men and boys for gender equality has to be about transforming gender relations and men assuming responsibility.”
Stressing the need to recognize the fact that “dominant norms of masculinity are among the driving forces in the perpetration of violence”, Dean Peacock, co-chair MenEngage Global Alliancepointed out the repercussions. “We are concerned about the growing militarization of society across the world and the levels of repression on civil society and human rights organizations,” he stated unequivocally. “This, along with the rise of religious fundamentalism and often in tandem with spiralling unemployment is seriously undermining all the work we are doing to changeexpressions of power,” he added.
Affirming this, Frederika Meijer, Country Representative, UNFPA India stated that: “No longer should any girl be deprived of her education, be married too early or against her will, be harmed or abused. No longer should any boy face, witness or perpetrate violence because of the need to be seen as a real man.” Elaborating this she said that: "Too many boys and young men experience various forms of stigma, discrimination and violence because of their racial or ethnic origin, caste, socio-economic status, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, or simply because they do not conform to the traditional patterns of being a man. We hold individual dignity as necessary for a true transformation of our societies.”
Taking this forward, SanjaySrivastava, member of the Symposium’s Organizing Committee said,“Across the sessions we found astrong commitment to examine the self,locate it in the wider political context in order to think in concrete ways of how to bring about change in the notions of masculinity.”
Other highlights from the Delhi Call to Action include:
UNFPA programmes on engaging men and boys, spread across multiple countries around the world (such as India, Niger, South Africa, Cambodia, Liberia, Albania, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Belize, Malawi, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Turkey and across Latin America) seek to increase men’s sense of ownership over new initiatives that promote gender equity, equality and women’s empowerment. UNFPA is a key partner for the symposium.
UN Women’s participation in the second MenEngage Global Symposium is a central part of its Beijing+20 campaign. UN Women’s work on engaging men and boys for gender equality is anchored in the belief that achieving gender equality is about transforming unequal power relations between men and women.
Other partners include UNDP, UK aid, Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, ActionAid, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, American Center, American Jewish World Service, Sida, Swissaid and Oak Foundation.
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