What Do 20 Men and Women in a Beirut Hotel Conference Room Have in Common? The MenEngage Lebanon Network Kicks off in Beirut

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October 2014“Human rights should not discriminate between men and women, because men and women are all human.”

This was a statement made by a participant at a recent training held by ABAAD, MenEngage, Sonke and International Medical Corps, in Lebanon towards the development of the MenEngage Lebanon Network. Twenty organisations convened to discuss the importance of engaging men in EVAW in Lebanon, working on masculinities and gender roles within Lebanon, and how forming a Network of like-minded organisations committed to the theory and goal that a partnership between men and women is a key effective approach to attain Gender Equality (GE).

Such a partnership can only begin when organisations in Lebanon working on gender equality commit to working with women, as well as with men, on the topic, and that is the primary goal of the MenEngage Lebanon Network. The training process, which has already begun, will be followed by 5 more training days with a similar goal, each day contributing to an organic process; members will express their needs, expectations, contributions, and structure of the Network in a truly democratic fashion.

These trainings follow a parallel process: discussion and formulation of the network by all of the parties is done simultaneously while raising the organisational members’ capacity and skills on how to engage men in gender equality and knowledge on masculinities. The output of this training will be a pool of organisations with an increased capacity and ability to engage men within their context in Lebanon, as well as sharing and learning among these organisations as a Network.

It is a hope that this MenEngage Lebanon Network will serve as a model that will eventually become the MenEngage MENA Network. Currently, the committed organisations in Lebanon are working together as equals to formulate the Network. The same process will be followed by organisations throughout the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) (such as Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Palestine, and others) to formulate individual country networks, as well as to formulate a MENA network. The end result will be partner organisations from throughout the MENA region composed of men and women dedicated to the goals of human rights and GE, sharing and learning, and standing united in the efforts to promote those goals throughout the MENA region.

Just as a journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step, the MENA Network will begin with the MenEngage Lebanon. And the MenEngage Lebanon Network has begun with these highly interactive, dynamic trainings with a group of twenty in Beirut.

In the words of another one of the participants and members of the newly formulating Network, “For too long, men have been part of the problem. Now, it is time for men to become part of the solution.”

(Article by Jay Feghali, ABAAD – Resource Centre for Gender Equality)

Fotos: participants of the meeting

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