Meet a member: Status-M’s Stipe Nogalo and Elizabeta Matković

‘Meet a member’ is a regular feature in the global newsletter of MenEngage Alliance. This month we spoke to two representatives of our member organisation Status M, Stipe Nogalo (he/him), member of the management board, and Elizabeta Matković (she/her), member of the executive board. Status M is currently co-coordinator of MenEngage Europe, represented by Anamarija Sočo, President of Status M.

What do you work on?

As Status M, we create spaces for youth to come together and work towards achieving gender justice and a non-violent society. We work in the community, inform and sensitize the public, empower experts, conduct research and advocate for the improvement of policies and practices. Our work as Status M includes engaging men and boys for gender justice, such as through the penal system, with young men and boys in schools, and around fatherhood.

How did you both personally become interested in the work on gender equality, especially from a men and masculinities approach?

Stipe Nogalo: I was interested in feminist perspectives and topics ever since I started college. As I learned more about feminism, about the social construction of gender, I became more interested in the topic of masculinities, partly from my own personal experience growing up as a man. Then I found out through some other people about the existence of Status M, and that’s how it started.

Elizabeta Matković: In high-school I started reading, which is a Croatian feminist website where I learned a lot about feminism and activism. Later, in my first year as a student, I became a member of one feminist collective, Hollaback, and later I joined fAKTIV, a feminist collective based in Croatia fighting for women’s labor and social rights, advocating for reproductive and sexual rights. Since then I have been an activist and I am continuously informing and educating myself more about feminist topics. One of those topics was masculinities, so I enrolled in the Status M education on working with youth, especially young men and since then I stayed a member of Status M. Firstly as a volunteer, then as an employee.

What is a resource you have worked on that addresses transforming masculinities for gender equality?

We are particularly proud of our video messaging around shifting the dialogue on what it means to be a man, especially as videos have the ability to make a significant impact. Below are two video series that we worked on. 

The first video series is from the campaign “Budi muško – mijenjaj pravila” (“Be a man – change the rules”) that was implemented in partnership with Industrijskom Strojarskom Školom (the Industrial Engineering School). The messaging here aims to use humour to address stereotypes around being a man. 

The second video series, as a part of the MenCare project, addressed what we mean when we talk about gender transformative change among men. For example, this video shows that we want men to take an equal share of familial and housework responsibilities, rather than viewing it as optional.

What keeps you motivated in this work?

Stipe Nogalo: The combination of my values and experiences is what keeps me motivated. While my feminist values are a primary source of motivation, what keeps me engaged are the experiences I have in my work. The connections and the small positive changes I see in the young men and boys when we work together continually renews my motivation. 

Elizabeta Matković: I believe that positive change is important and that we cannot achieve it if we are not working on it. Sometimes I need to remind myself, especially in situations when we are receiving backlash, that it is important to keep going. However I feel like my biggest motivation is the relationships and small changes I recognize in working with youth. These small changes show that our work is meaningful and that change is possible.

Could you recommend a resource?

Stipe Nogalo: Recently, I’ve watched this video essay, by Alexander Avila, on masculinity. Its form and content encapsulate really well my view of our work with men and boys for gender transformative change: Did feminism FAIL men? Despite the provocative title, the video essay examines masculinity from a feminist perspective as it explores the different  messages boys receive growing up about what it means to be a man. It’s grounded in Alexander’s reading of The Will to Change by bell hooks, and sociological literature. It digs into ways we construct masculinity and the way our societies are complicit in it, what functions it has for our capitalist patriarchal societies and all the ways it limits us as people. It is a warm and tender dialogue with masculinity and offers a transformative and hopeful perspective.

What do you hope we can achieve together as an Alliance that we cannot do as individual organizations?

Together, we bring diverse perspectives, resources, and outreach capabilities that surpass what individual organizations can achieve. Our collective effort ensures a broader understanding of feminism, addressing societal norms and gender roles affecting both men and women. By pooling resources, we create more impactful programs and campaigns, amplifying our influence on cultural perceptions of gender. This collaboration fosters sustained conversations, challenging stereotypes and promoting equality. Ultimately, the alliance’s strength lies in its ability to cultivate a more inclusive, informed, and impactful approach to advancing feminism and gender equality.

Do you have an inspiring quote that you would like to share?

“Without treating privileged men as an object of pity, we should recognize that hegemonic masculinity does not necessarily translate into a satisfying experience of life.”

Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.

What part of the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action resonates with you?

Stipe Nogalo: The call to action about feminist systems change resonates with me the most. My perspective is that a lot of this kind of work just remains in the narrow confines of individual work. While working with individuals does have potential for positive change, it is limited. We have to recognize that a lot of the things we work on, be it gender injustice or sexual violence, has its roots in systemic structures of our societies.

You can find more information about Status M’s work on their website, and their social media accounts Instagram and Facebook. You can also find Elizabeta Matković on Instagram and Stipe Nogalo on X.

19 December 2023
Status M


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