Meet our new Global Co-Chair
We are pleased to welcome Humberto Carolo into the role of Co-Chair of MenEngage Alliance Global Board. The Global Board oversees the work of the Alliance and is made up of 15 members representing all regions of the world where we have active membership, as well as a number of at-large member organizations.
Tell us about yourself and what you do for your day job
I am the Executive Director of White Ribbon and am based in Toronto, Canada. I have been with the organization for the past 13 years, first as a Project Manager, coordinating a Canada-Brazil cooperation initiative, and then on to roles with increased responsibility. I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, and moved to Canada with my family as a young teen. I have three teenage sons, who I adopted together with my partner when they were 6, 7 and 9 years old.
How did you get involved in women’s rights and gender justice work?
Social justice, human rights, and gender equality have always played an important role in my personal and professional life. Having grown up poor in Portugal and moved to Canada for economic reasons, I am keenly aware of the intersections between poverty, migration, discrimination, and violence. I experienced it first hand in our family and saw it happen to the women and girls in my life and community. I took a great interest in social and gender justice from a young age and ended up pursuing social change through my volunteer, academic and professional work. I was actively involved in my community and school and took on leadership roles such as the Human Rights Officer at the University of Toronto Students Administrative Council. I took a keen interest in gender equality and LGBTQ rights as a young student and ended up working in HIV prevention with LGBTQ and vulnerable youth in Toronto right out of university. As a dad of three boys who lost their birth family to poverty and family violence, I am both personally and professionally committed to helping raise and inspire new generations of young people to live free from all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination.
What does it mean to you to identify as a man in this field of work?
Men have important roles to play in ending gender-based violence, discrimination and exploitation, in role-modelling healthy, equal relationships to young people and everyone around us, and in being accountable to women and the women’s movement while doing so. As men, we have an opportunity to work alongside women and people of all genders, identities and sexualities, in solidarity and allyship, to promote broader social and gender justice. This means being inclusive, intersectional, and consultative in our approach. Men need to do this work from a human rights and women’s rights approach and we need to work towards change at the individual, collective, and societal level. In addition, we need to ensure we live and practice those values in ethical and accountable ways in our own personal and professional lives.
When (and why) did you first get involved with MenEngage Alliance?
I first got involved with MenEngage Alliance in my first job at White Ribbon, when I was managing a collaborative partnership project with Promundo and Instituto Papai in Brazil. At the time, MenEngage Alliance was in its infancy but we were committed to helping it grow and turning it into a truly global network of organizations and practitioners with an interest in engaging men and boys in gender justice. White Ribbon worked together with Promundo, Papai and other partners to organize the first MenEngage Alliance Global Symposium which took place in Rio de Janeiro, in 2009. Following the symposium, I joined efforts with other colleagues and organizations to form the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN). I was a member of the Steering Committee and NAMEN’s Co-chair until very recently when White Ribbon re-assumed the role of Co-chair of MenEngage Alliance.
Why did you accept the role of co-chair for the Alliance, and what are your aspirations in this role?
It’s a true honour to represent White Ribbon in this role. I have always admired the work of the Alliance and the way in which it brings like-minded organizations together from across the world. I hope to support the Alliance and its members in growing our reach, collaboration, advocacy, and impact. Despite the tremendous challenges we see spanning the globe, I believe in the power of working collaboratively, finding common ground, and standing together in allyship and action.
What do you hope the network can achieve in the next few years ?
MenEngage Alliance can continue to be a strong voice of solidarity with women’s rights and gender justice movements. We can put forth a strong collective effort to activate men’s various roles to support and act on the calls to gender justice and human rights action from various social movements. The Alliance and its members can serve as strong advocates with our local, regional, and global institutions. As an Alliance, we can support regional networks and individual members to strengthen their capacity to maximize impact.
Do you have a favourite moment so far from your time working with MenEngage Alliance
I always find it inspiring and energizing when Alliance members gather in person to share information, learn from one another, and strategize together. I have had the opportunity to attend both MenEngage Alliance Global Symposiums and can say they were two of the most inspiring experiences of my career. The feeling of being and learning together with hundreds of like-minded activists from across the world is truly indescribable.