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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Live from MenEngage Rio: Day Two

Posted by Eric Ramírez-Ferrero

The morning of day two I viewed the Symposium’s photo exhibit entitled, “The World’s Most Influential Men,” which highlights positive male role models for boys (and girls, too!) from 20 countries. Even more than the photos, I was moved by the accompanying captions. In particular, a beautiful portrait of a father and son from Ethiopia was tagged with the quote, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Another photo was a powerful reminder that men’s roles are not limited to fatherhood but span the entire community—from brothers and uncles, to teachers, coaches, to local government leaders: One man’s beliefs and acts really do impact an extended network of people.

At CHAMPION, we had a similar idea. Our formative research revealed that most Tanzanians thought that gender equitable men did not exist. We thought it was critical to show that they did exist, that all over Tanzania there are men working for the health of their families and communities. We created a photo and story calendar of male “champions” from around the nation, and mounted an exhibit at our recent project launch.

The most provocative session of the day for me was the “Dialogue with Women’s Rights Movements,” which began with personal reflections by the speakers about how they came to their work (how have all of us ended up in this room together?) and later turned to recent press coverage of a disturbing trend in Brazil: the high incidence of rape and molestation of young girls and women. Where is the public outrage from men? they asked. There are gender-equitable men in all of our communities, and among our leaders. But where is their leadership at times like this? Where are their voices?

The photos and speakers in this and other sessions affirmed the importance of gender-equitable men speaking out – of our need to both see and hear them: Men who truly believe in the possibility of a transformed world have a responsibility to be visible, and to challenge other men’s sexist and damaging behaviors.

1 comment:

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