by Charity T. Mpofu & Tapiwa Manyati
The MenEngage Africa Network is establishing the MenEngage Africa Training Initiative (MATI) and the first ever regional training initiative on engaging men and boys for gender equality within Africa is scheduled for early 2012.
Around the world, there is increasing evidence that engaging men and boys is an effective means of addressing gender-based violence and social injustice. MATI seeks to build the momentum of and scale up the work with men and boys in Africa by strengthening skills for and knowledge on working with men and boys in order to further gender transformation.
What is the MenEngage Africa Training Initiative?
The MenEngage Africa alliance was established in recognition of the need for a stronger focus on engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and addressing the public health challenges which the continent faces. The MenEngage Africa alliance has grown rapidly and now has a significant number of active country networks.
The alliance has also successfully held numerous conferences and symposiums attracting participants across the continent. Due to a lack of resources the initiative will only operate on a regional level. A long-term strategy needs to be developed to be able to fund and hold sub-regional trainings. This initiative is targeted at NGOs, CBOs, women’s organisations, feminist organisations, organisations working with men and boys for gender equality, LGBTI organisations, academics, activists, human rights organisations, civil society organisations, trade unions, religious institutions, traditional healers, researchers, youth organisations, policy makers, government officials all looking to work with men and boys.
Why a Training Initiative?
The Training Initiative stems from the fact that in the past, gender equality and gender has focused exclusively on women. Substantial evidence suggests that to further the gender agenda, we have to work with men and boys because gender is relational. Working with women in isolation from men is often not sufficient to achieve sustained gender transformation. Including men as part of the solution is important in order to shift social norms and change men’s attitudes and behaviours.
Interventions in this area remain short term and small scale and so there is a need to scale up programs on work with men and boys. There is a shortage of properly evaluated interventions within the region.
Objectives of the Training Initiative are as follows:
1. To ensure a critical mass of skilled and knowledgeable men, women and transgendered people on the African continent to scale up work on engaging men and boys.
2. To create a critical mass of gender advocates, future leaders and policy makers who are able to effect policy change that is more gender equitable and takes a transformative approach in including men and boys in the definition of gender.
3. To create a network of future leaders and gender justice advocates which would contribute to the broader goal of the greater involvement of men and boys in prevention and response to gender based violence, HIV and AIDS and other societal issues.
4. To create a network of future leaders of men who will uphold all human rights including women’s rights, children’s rights and LGBTI rights, a network of future leaders who are ethical leaders who are compassionate, non violent, caring and who calls for an end to all wars on the African continent.
5. To create a critical mass of men who are present fathers and actively engaged in the lives of their children, the communities’ children and in the sexual and reproductive rights of their female partners and themselves.