Be­cause you are a man

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - ANALYSIS - Am­bas­sador Sofia Call­torp ◆ Ms Sofia Call­torp is Swe­den’s Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe.

16 Days of Ac­tivism Against Gen­der-Based Vi­o­lence is an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign to chal­lenge vi­o­lence against women and girls. The cam­paign runs every year from 25 No­vem­ber to 10 De­cem­ber. The in­ter­na­tional cam­paign orig­i­nated from the first Women’s Global Lead­er­ship In­sti­tute co­or­di­nated by the Cen­ter for Women’s Global Lead­er­ship in 1991.

AS THE global cam­paign “16 days of ac­tivism against gen­der-based vi­o­lence” launches to­day, I would like to take the op­por­tu­nity to high­light the im­por­tance of en­gag­ing and ad­dress­ing men in the fight against gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

In or­der to erad­i­cate gen­der-based vi­o­lence, we all need to come to­gether, both women and men. But es­pe­cially men.

In their roles as fa­thers, broth­ers, hus­bands and as fel­low hu­man be­ings, men of all ages are key to bring­ing this vi­o­lence to an end.

Men con­sti­tute half of the pop­u­la­tion glob­ally and have an equal re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure that all girls, boys and women are as­sured of equal rights.

Not only is this a moral obli­ga­tion, it is also an eco­nomic and so­ci­etal pre-con­di­tion for Zim­babwe to be­come a health­ier, safer and more pros­per­ous coun­try.

To­day, United Na­tions and the Em­bassy of Swe­den in Zim­babwe will be launch­ing a joint cam­paign that specif­i­cally tar­gets the role that men must take in the quest to end gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

The Em­bassy has part­nered with 16 brave men who have all taken the bold step to speak up against vi­o­lence in so­ci­ety; both at the work­place and at home.

Un­der the banner “Be­cause I am a man”, the 16 brave men are tak­ing a strong stand against all types of gen­der-based vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to, phys­i­cal and ver­bal ha­rass­ment, phys­i­cal abuse of women and chil­dren as well as forced child mar­riages and other harm­ful prac­tices. They are the much needed male role mod­els. The need for change of harm­ful and vi­o­lent be­hav­iour is ev­i­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund, al­most seven in 10 Zim­bab­wean women ex­pe­ri­ence some form of vi­o­lence at least once in their life­time, while 46 per­cent of Zim­bab­wean men ad­mit to hav­ing per­pe­trated some form of vi­o­lence in their life­time.

As alarm­ing as th­ese fig­ures are, the fact re­mains that many in­ci­dents go un­re­ported due to so­ci­etal stig­ma­ti­sa­tion, mak­ing the ac­tual num­ber of vic­tims much higher.

Ad­di­tion­ally, a re­cent Unicef study found that vi­o­lence of­ten be­gins at home at a young age and that it cre­ates a risk of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing vi­o­lence in other set­tings as well, in­clud­ing at school and on­line.

It is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that gen­der-based vi­o­lence is not only men vic­tim­is­ing women and chil­dren — it is also preva­lent with women abus­ing their chil­dren and their hus­bands.

Chil­dren who grow up be­ing abused by the peo­ple they love find it hard to have non-vi­o­lent re­la­tion­ships as adults due to love and abuse be­com­ing com­pletely in­ter­twined in their world-view.

Re­search shows that chil­dren who are free from vi­o­lence in their child­hood per­form bet­ter in school and have an over­all health­ier up­bring­ing.

Many of th­ese sad facts and statis­tics are rooted in gen­der-in­equal­ity and un­healthy and abu­sive male be­hav­iour, of­ten passed on from fa­thers to sons — through gen­er­a­tions.

Chal­leng­ing ex­ist­ing pa­tri­ar­chal struc­tures and tra­di­tional mas­culin­ity is not only vi­tal for the safety and se­cu­rity of women and chil­dren — it also im­proves the health and so­cial well­be­ing of young boys and men.

In ad­di­tion to re­duc­ing vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren, pos­i­tive mas­culin­ity norms can also re­duce in­stances of vi­o­lence between men.

But to achieve this, it is of ut­most im­por­tance that men and boys par­tic­i­pate in the ef­forts to end gen­der-based vi­o­lence and that they be­come sen­si­tised to em­brace health­ier mas­culin­ity norms.

16 role mod­els

The 16 men that agreed to par­tic­i­pate in the “Be­cause I am a man” cam­paign are cru­cial in this ef­fort.

Not only are they in­flu­en­tial and known fig­ures in their re­spec­tive fields, but more im­por­tantly, they all have the po­ten­tial to in­spire young boys and men to take a strong stand against gen­der-based vi­o­lence in Zim­babwe.

In ad­di­tion to feel­ing mo­ti­vated and in­spired by th­ese 16 men, you can also:

◆ Spread the word — to ev­ery­one in your com­mu­nity. Gen­der-based vi­o­lence is never the vic­tim’s fault.

◆ Shift the cul­ture — pos­i­tive mas­culin­ity also in­cludes be­ing kind, re­spect­ful and emo­tional.

◆ Speak out — when­ever women and girls are not treated with re­spect.

◆ Study it — dis­crim­i­na­tion and in­equal­ity are at the root of vi­o­lence against women and girls. Ed­u­cate your­self on th­ese is­sues.

◆ Sup­port sur­vivors — vol­un­teer or donate to or­ga­ni­za­tions that of­fer ser­vices to vic­tims and sur­vivors. Swedish em­bassies around the world con­tinue to be driv­ing forces for in­creased re­spect for hu­man rights and strong ad­vo­cates for greater gen­der equal­ity.

In Zim­babwe, Swe­den sup­ports nu­mer­ous part­ners and ini­tia­tives that pro­mote gen­der equal­ity and pos­i­tive mas­culin­ity norms.

The Em­bassy also sup­ports civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions to pre­vent var­i­ous forms of abuse as well as in­sti­tu­tions that host and as­sist sur­vivors of gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

We hope many young boys and men will feel in­spired by the 16 men against gen­der-based vi­o­lence. We can only end gen­der-based vi­o­lence and al­low all Zim­bab­weans to live a life free from abuse if we — as women and men — work to­gether.

Be­cause you are a man, you too can help end gen­der-based vi­o­lence.

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