Learnings and actions, 1 year on from the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

It has been one year since members and partners of MenEngage Alliance launched the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action.

The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action marked the culmination of a 7-month journey we embarked on as members and partners for the 3rd MenEngage Global Symposium – the Ubuntu Symposium. It was our biggest mobilization to date as a global community committed to transforming patriarchal masculinities and working with men and boys for gender, social, and climate justice all around the world.

The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action continues to serve as a key visioning statement and set of shared aspirations and actions for those working to transform patriarchal masculinities and engage boys and men for gender justice.

Putting these ambitious commitments into practice has been a key (and ongoing) next step. In fact, since its launch, many regional networks, and MenEngage Alliance as a whole, have been putting activities into place that speak to the Calls to Action. To share these activities, ideas and  stories, an email campaign to members was developed to mark the first anniversary of the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action.

The campaign shared practical initiatives and steps to make its aspirational commitments a reality across our networks and beyond. It invited members and partners to reflect and share about each of the Calls to Action.

Below, we share some of the activities included in the campaign, organized according to the Calls to Action from the Ubuntu Declaration.

Intersectional Feminist Approaches

‘We commit to firmly rooting our work with men and boys to transform patriarchal masculinities in intersectional feminist principles and analysis.

Critical to this task is centering and elevating the agency, voices, analysis and demands of women; LGBTQI individuals; people of color; Black, indigenous and youth communities – centering those living at these intersections and who are on the margins of the margins.’

– Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

Intersectional Feminism calls on us to think about and challenge gender inequalities alongside (and in relation to) other systems of injustice. For example, homophobia, transphobia, racism, colonialism, adultism, ableism, xenophobia, classism, casteism, and capitalism.

Intersectional feminism was a key Call to Action within the Ubuntu Declaration because it is vital for social justice. Intersectional approaches should be embedded across our work and practices.

How are intersectional feminist approaches being put into practice across MenEngage Alliance?

With a forthcoming strategy for LGBTQI inclusion in South Asia. The new strategy is a key milestone in putting LGBTQI rights and visibility firmly at the top of the agenda for MenEngage Alliance South Asia (MEASA).

Globally, a group of MenEngage Alliance members comes together quarterly as part of a Learning Circle on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). If you would like to learn more about the SOGIESC Learning Circle, or to join the conversation, email info@menengage.org.

Through our collective contributions to the Generation Equality Forums (GEF). With the MenEngage Advocacy Working Group, we developed a series of Policy Agendas for GEF. They offer key political demands for the work to transform patriarchal masculinities within the intersectional feminist agenda.

In our updated new Core Principles. The Core Principles were updated through a multi-year process. It involved members, partners, and feminist voices. The resulting text calls on us to ‘embrace intersectional feminism’ in our work.

With regular anti-racism sessions within the Global Secretariat team. The team meets for monthly dialogues, guided by The Racial Healing Handbook.

This book provides “practical activities to help you challenge privilege, confront systemic racism, and engage in collective healing”. The book is a great option for teams looking to create space to foster anti-racism discussions, reflections, and practices.

Feminist Systems Change

The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action (UDCTA) is a call for men’s engagement work to support feminist systems change agenda:

‘We commit to working to dismantle unequal power structures and patriarchal systems to advance the feminist systems change agenda towards social, economic and environmental justice.

We commit to critical reflection about patriarchal masculinities in our work with men and boys… and to bring men and boys onboard as advocates for systemic transformation.’ 

What is a ‘feminist Systems change agenda’?

MenEngage Alliance South Asia (MEASA) created a video explaining ‘feminist systems change’ and how we can support it.

It is an example of using the power of video to meet the aspirations of the UDCTA “to bring men and boys onboard as advocates for systemic transformation”.

It is also recommended viewing for all of us as activists and aspiring allies. Let’s learn, share, and join hands with a broad range of social justice movements around this transformative agenda.

The video is not only for English speakers in the region. You can also watch it in Bangla, Hindi, Sinhala, and Tamil.

Where else has there been allyship for feminist systems change across MenEngage Alliance?

In the Iberian Peninsula. The recently formed network, MenEngage Iberia, which covers Spain and Portugal, wrote a Feminist Agenda on Men and Masculinities. You can read it in Spanish or English.

In our joint policy advocacy. At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) and the Generation Equality Forums, the global MenEngage Advocacy Working Group supported feminist policy recommendations with strong wording on systems change. You can find the policy recommendations here.



As a global alliance committed to transforming patriarchal masculinities for gender, climate, LGBTQI, and social justice it is important we center the topic of accountability. It is therefore no surprise that accountability is a key theme in the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action:

‘We commit to accountability and taking responsibility as the only way forward.

We commit to holding ourselves accountable to the principles and standards that we have developed for the work on transforming masculinities and engaging men and boys in gender equality.’

– Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

How is accountability being put into practice across MenEngage Alliance?

Through accountability workshops. For example, Latin America and Africa MenEngage regional networks completed a series of workshops this year. The sessions provided a space to understand accountability for us working  with men and boys for gender justice and, to practice with new accountability tools . They served as platforms for members and networks to set steps and systems for being more accountable.

With a global system for sharing any feedback or concerns. The system aims to create safe channels to report any issues of accountability, appointing focal points trained to handle complaints and setting an anonymous hotline channel for reporters who prefer to stay anonymous. This can include anything relating to MenEngage Alliance networks, processes, or individuals representing MenEngage Alliance. The reporting system strives to follow values of restorative justice.

With the launch of the updated Accountability Standards. Based on a comprehensive consultation process, the Accountability Standards document shares aspirations for how we can all become more accountable in this work. It sets out actions, practices,  and commitments for those working to transform masculinities and engage men and boys for gender justice.



The past few years have shown the power of youth speaking up for justice around the world. The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action calls on us to center the perspectives, voices, and leadership of youth:

‘We, including young leaders, commit to valuing the agency, perspectives and leadership of youth movements and young people in all our diversities.

We commit to centering young voices in our decision-making and agenda-setting, and mutually sharing knowledge, resources and opportunities to support and advance meaningful youth participation. We commit to working intergenerationally, building on the histories and expertise across the movements.’

– Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

Putting commitments into practice

Did you know MenEngage Alliance has a Youth Strategy: “Building and Engaging Young Leaders”? The document sets out how we aspire to create networks and spaces where young people and leaders can thrive. It was co-written in collaboration with the Youth Reference Group of MenEngage Alliance.

The Youth Reference Group is a group of young people from across various regions where MenEngage Alliance is present. It is a space for growth, learning, strategizing and collaborations. Interested in joining or finding out more? Email info@menengage.org.

Most of our regional and country networks have youth committees or working groups in place. If you are a young person who is involved in gender equality, LGBTIQ rights or social justice agenda —or if you advocate for meaningful youth engagement and leadership—you can contact your respective national or regional network coordinator(s) to see if there are youth groups already active. If not, our national and regional network leadership will be happy to further explore and consider setting one up.



Decolonization is a deep and important theme. It puts global inequalities into perspective, based on the histories of colonialism and its lasting impacts. It reminds us that the world we live in has been shaped by practices, systems, and ways of thinking that are rooted in imperialism and oppression.

Decolonization pushes us to unpack and dismantle these systems. To listen to, respect, and center indigenous voices and ideas. And to imagine futures that make amends for the colonial logic of domination, extraction, and the erasure of traditional wisdom – for the benefit of all and the sustainable future of the planet.

‘We commit to questioning and unpacking how colonial, eurocentric, Global-North hegemonic structures of power and dominance continue to produce inequalities around the world.

We acknowledge that the field of gender transformative work with men and boys, including funding for this work, is not immune to these dynamics. We commit to gearing our efforts to dismantling such practices and systems.

We commit to challenging unequal structures and manifestations of power and control that perpetuate privileges over universal rights. We must do this in our own thinking, organizing and actions. We commit to decolonizing our minds, practices and organizing, including how knowledge is produced and shared.’

– Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

How is decolonization being put into practice across MenEngage Alliance?

With a State of the Field advocacy report exploring intersectionality and decolonization. The report, by the North America MenEngage Network’s Policy Advocacy Committee, seeks to promote and advance  transformative masculinities through a decolonial, intersectional, and accountable advocacy lens. It assesses the needs, agendas and political demands of Black, Latino, Indigenous, and women of color-lead organizations – in particular around work with men and boys. It also unpacks the various positionalties of men in gender transformative work, including by mapping the experiences and needs of men and boys from marginalized communities. The report is forthcoming.

With a commitment to anti-racism and decolonization from MenEngage Europe. Through member workshops, MenEngage Europe is working to “develop the position and ambition…on the issue of anti-racism and decolonization”. The network aims to increase “understanding of racism and colonialism and the damage and hurt it has caused and is still causing”.

The commitment by MenEngage Europe aims to “strengthen the capacity of all our members to consciously challenge racism and colonialism in their everyday work and action”. You can read their full statement on this commitment here.

As a foundational commitment for all members. Our recently updated Core Principles call on us all to “strive to decolonize our systems, practices, values, and mindsets”. This Principle aims to put decolonization front and center for us as a network, and be a key agreement for reflection and action at all levels of MenEngage Alliance.


Inner work for social change

‘We acknowledge that all our commitments made here may not be possible unless we do the inner work required to propel social change. We believe that personal transformation is deeply interwoven to social change, and we call for reflecting on power and privilege, as well as where we are positioned within the systems of oppression.

We commit to an ongoing reflective practice that increases transformative awareness of self and others, as well as of the systems from which complex social problems arise.’

– Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

What is Inner Work for Social change?

“The most important aspect of inner work is self reflection of one’s own power and privilege”, explains MenEngage Alliance South Asia (MEASA) in its new video on inner work for social change.

The video is part of a series that sheds light on many of the themes found in the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action. This video on inner work serves as a great introduction to the topic and why personal transformation is deeply interwoven with social change.

How is ‘Inner work for social change’ being put into practice across MenEngage Alliance?

With the MenEngage Europe community check-ins. In the words of Sé Franklin, who coordinates the monthly space, “as the world shifts around us, I feel the need, more and more, to be in community, to find support and encouragement and to hear challenges.”

These spaces offer important moments, as Sé states, to “seek and offer support to each other” in meeting the challenges we work on. If you are a member of MenEngage Europe, contact the regional coordinator at: europe@menengage.org to find out how to join these community sessions. 

Through the global Inner work for social change solidarity circle. MenEngage Alliance facilitates a global solidarity circle on Inner Work for Social Change which has brought together members from across the regions to begin unpacking the Alliance’s commitment to inner transformation for outer collective change. This group meets once every two months, with external facilitators joining periodically to help us strengthen our skill sets and toolboxes.

If you would like to be part of the Inner work for Social Change Solidarity Circle, please sign up here

From time to time the group organizes inner work for social change sessions open to everyone, led by special guests such as the one we had with Nontokozo Sedibe, South African  advocate for climate and social justice, community living and North-South healing and reconciliation, utilizing the principles of Ubuntu. As members and partners of the Alliance, we invite you to take part in these sessions. You can email: bianca@menengage.org for more information.


Power-with, Allyship and Movement-building

‘We commit to supporting and acting in solidarity, as meaningful allies, to intersectional feminist and social justice movements and organizing, both on the streets and in the halls of power.

We seek to do so by radically listening and learning from these movements and from the lessons they have learned over time, from their leadership, and to reach out, build bridges and work in allyship’.

– Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action

What is Power-with, Allyship and Movement-building?

According to the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action (UDCTA), to act in allyship includes centering and elevating the knowledge and thought leadership arising from feminist movements’. It means disrupting patriarchal ways of organizing, that are inherently based on unequal power relations. And learning from the contributions of global south feminists and leaders on how power can be held horizontally and collectively.

How is ‘Power-with, Allyship and Movement-building’ being put into practice across MenEngage Alliance?

Through solidarity actions for feminist climate justice. At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), our global Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group co-organized activities alongside, and in support of, feminist, LGBTIQ, indigenous, youth and climate justice movements.

Our joint activities at CSW66 aimed to support their demands, and unpack the importance of deconstructing patriarchal masculinities for a climate and gender-just world.

Activities at CSW66 included:

The MenEngage Climate & Environmental Justice Working Group also aims to put ‘power-with’ into practice through non-hierarchical ways of organizing that share power and responsibilities among group members.

By organizing a critical feminist assessment of ‘engaging men’ work in Latin America. MenEngage Latin America worked with feminist consultants to conduct a ‘diagnostic assessment’. Known as the ‘Diagnosis Towards an Ethical Agenda for Equality in Latin America’, it gave space for those within feminist women’s movements to share critical persectives on the meaningful participation of men and boys. In particular, it examined the past and possible future roles of men who work from a positive, egalitarian and equitable perspective.

The activity was carried out by two feminist women with a long career in advocacy for women’s rights with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health and rights. It gathered views from a diverse range of feminist activists from six Latin American countries.

As the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action aspires to be a “ collective vision and a set of commitments for those working to engage men and boys and transform masculinities.” To realize its vision takes regular and ongoing reflection, dialogue, and action. This dialogue will continue over the years ahead. It is being, and will continue to be, examined, unpacked, contextualized, and acted upon in the many different contexts where members are active.

In short, the themes in the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action are part of a lifelong journey towards action, growth and justice.

15 September 2022