Members from around the world came together for the MenEngage Alliance Global Members Assembly on 11 May 2022. The event served as a critical moment to reaffirm the shared values and commitments as an international community for social change.
The Global Members’ Assembly comes at a moment in time when the world is experiencing urgent, interconnected challenges, including war and political unrest, militarisation, the climate crisis, restrictive spaces for civil society, fundamentalism, right wing and anti-feminist groups – among many others.
A multilingual event for members around the world
The global Members’ Assembly took place online with live interpretation in Spanish, French, and English. The event was also available in 17 other languages thanks to the use of an auto-translation tool. Broadening the language options has become a key aspiration of MenEngage Alliance when facilitating online spaces for members and partners.
The Assembly was open to all members of MenEngage Alliance around the world. This includes members of all national and regional networks globally. Through a 3-hour program, the Assembly gave space for the membership to come together to reaffirm what MenEngage Alliance stands for, and the shared agenda that unites members all around the world.
Presenting the updated Accountability Framework of MenEngage Alliance
The updated Core Principles, Code of Conduct, and Accountability Standards were presented by a group of members from around the world. These key documents have been updated through a 2-year process of consultation and participatory review. Together, they form the ‘Accountability Framework’ for the MenEngage Alliance community—as individuals, organizations, and as a collective.
To reaffirm the collective commitments and standards as MenEngage Alliance, all members—including members of all regional and national MenEngage Alliance networks—are being requested to review and sign these updated documents.
The context of increasing backlash against women’s rights, LGBTIQ rights, and human rights
The Members’ Assembly began with an address from Madeleine Rees, Secretary General, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and board member of MenEngage Alliance. Madeleine framed the work of MenEngage Alliance and its members against the backdrop of urgent challenges in the world today, and the systems that underpin them.
Commenting on the state of backlash against human rights, Madeleine said: “For me, where we are now is almost [as if we were] going in a circle. I’m old enough to remember a time when there were no, or very limited, rights to control your own bodies for women. No abortion rights, homosexuality was criminalized, transsexualism was seen as a mental disorder. There was a rigid binary.
“It was a time of the Cold War, where militarism was absolutely predominant in the creation of nuclear weapons in order to ensure mutual assured destruction. And I think you can see why I feel like [we’re] going around in a circle.
“Since then, we all thought that we were making progress, with significant gains around women’s bodily autonomy and securing the legal the rights of LGBTQI people in many, but certainly not all, countries. We were starting to understand how political economy works in all spaces—from the home all the way through to international relations. We began to understand gender as a performance of culture and not a biologically determined function, to actually be able to stand in real solidarity in changing systems of oppression.
“But here we are, almost back where we started. It seems as if patriarchy is way stronger than we thought.”
Presenting the strategy of MenEngage Alliance
Following the address from Madeleine Rees, members were introduced to the current strategy of MenEngage Alliance. The strategy was shared by Global Board members, Jens van Tricht, MenEngage Europe and Director of Emancipator, and Darío Ibarra Casals, co-coordinator of MenEngage Latin America. Members then took part in a town hall session to share feedback on the strategy.
Discussing the MenEngage Alliance Strategy, Jens said: “It has never been as urgent as now to ensure that all the networks and movements working for equality and justice join hands to form cross movement alliances in order to push back against the pushback, and transform and ultimately eradicate patriarchy and male privilege.”
Discussing the role of MenEngage Alliance, Darío added: “We have a responsibility to promote effective and high quality gender transformation programs to help dismantle patriarchy.”
Future global Members’ Assemblies
Members responded to a poll on how often they would like global Members’ Assemblies to take place. The clear preference from members is to hold a Members’ Assembly on an annual basis. Members are invited to join the Members’ Assembly Planning Committee to take this forward (current members who are interested in being involved should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more).