The Steering Committee of MenEngage Alliance South Asia (MEASA) met in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 14–16 June 2022 to discuss the forward strategy for the regional network. Gathering in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the three-day meeting was an important opportunity for national network representatives to reconnect and reflect on the future direction of MEASA.
Reflecting on recent highlights and challenges across MenEngage Alliance South Asia
The Steering Committee meeting was an opportunity to share recent highlights, challenges, and lessons learned. Participants reflected on some of the impacts that the network has had in recent years. This includes a notable development of relationships with other parts of the MenEngage around the world. Participants also welcomed the general levels of coordination and follow-up between members, as well as a strong knowledge base of the shared core values. It has also been, participants noted, a period in which strong capacity for actions and initiatives has been fostered.
These strengths present opportunities for the region. For example, after the Ubuntu Symposium, MEASA deepened its knowledge of the history of feminist movements in the South Asian region.
Participants also noted some challenges, including a limited understanding of the structure of the network. Organizing in non-hierarchical ways in which power is shared equitably – an ongoing aspiration for all MenEngage networks – was also mentioned. There was also a sense of needing to do more to reach out to the ‘grassroots’ of the network. A further challenge was the lack of time and capacity at different levels.
One external pressure that participants noted is the economic and socio-cultural issues and socio-cultural that have been amplified by the pandemic. These have restricted MEASA members to actively and effectively mobilize.
What makes our alliance?
The South Asia Steering Committee discussed the Revised Operational Framework. It details MEASA’s vision, mission, core principles, the network’s governance structure, funding mechanisms and accountability standards and guidelines. It includes strategic plans at the levels of national networks.
In addition, it sets out the Terms of Reference for the Regional Steering Committee, the Regional Secretariat, and for the Country Secretariats. These terms of reference, which were formally adopted at the meeting, support MEASA to follow its strategic vision and decision making for the region, as well as support and facilitate the implementation of activities.
Participants discussed the revised Core Principles, Code of Conduct, and Accountability Standards of MenEngage Alliance. These documents, which have been recently revised through a consultation taking place across all MenEngage networks, form the MenEngage ‘Accountability Framework’. This framework sets a foundation for the shared work of all MenEngage Alliance networks.
The MEASA Steering Committee, together with the Global Secretariat, is facilitating a process to invite all MEASA members to sign the updated documents. Joining remotely, Joni van de Sand, Co-Director, and Tom Hornbrook, Communications Coordinator of the Global Secretariat of MenEngage Alliance, were on hand to answer any questions about them.
This was followed by a discussion facilitated by Yogesh Vaishnav, co-chair of Forum for Engaging Men on how MEASA can strengthen individual and collective accountability within the regional and country alliances.
LGBTIQ Inclusion Strategy: Virtual Session
Steering Committee members were briefed on MEASA’s newly developed LGBTIQ inclusion strategy. This was with the virtual participation of the consultant who led the development of the strategy, Dharini Priscilla.
The strategy has been developed through consultations and drawing learnings for the network. As Dharini stated, ‘the main purpose [of the strategy] is to focus on visibility and to show that LGBTQ rights, representation, and inclusion are a priority in our existent and ongoing efforts.’
Based on the consultations and research, as Dharini stated, ‘we focus on three specific areas. The first area consists on representation and visibility.’ MEASA will focus on active recruitment of LGBTQ organizations, defenders, and activists across the region to expand representation within the network’s body…The second section focuses on the protection of rights, safety, and security in physical and digital environments for LGBTQ individuals.’
And the final section of the strategy, ‘focuses on allyship and support on factors such as communication and intersectionality, specifically talking about language, personal relationships, and how we contribute to this.’
The MEASA Steering Committee now has the task of mapping ‘where we are now’, and planning the action points for the implementation of the strategy. To support this effort, the group held a discussion about the LGBTIQ strategy, facilitated by Anis Anisuzzaman, Project Coordinator of Bandhu Social Welfare Society. The discussion focused on its implementation, at regional and country levels.
Communications and Knowledge Plan
The session continued with a discussion on the new Communications and Knowledge Plan, presented by the lead author, Manu Tissera, Communications Consultant. She summarized the need for this strategy to:
- Have clarity on MEASA’s purpose, which would increase collaboration internally.
- Improve MEASA’s visibility and cooperation externally.
- Position MEASA as an influencing partner in the gender justice discourse.
- Make MEASA a focal point for knowledge gathering and sharing.
- Contribute to the knowledge products and community of gender justice and equality.
With those needs in mind, the objectives of the new Communications and Knowledge Plan are to:
- Provide a purpose, structure, system, and guidelines for MEASA.
- Promote a learning and sharing culture within MEASA.
- Developing communications and knowledge management as a program resource.
- Developing a MEASA branding and a marking guidance for internal and external use. For example: how best to use your name; how best to brand; how your partners or your team members will use the brand individually, in their social media, or your event programs , etc.
- And finally, the strategy will leverage the knowledge gained from programs for social dialogue and advocacy.
During Manu’s presentation there were screenings of excerpts of knowledge products produced by MEASA.
Meeting with Nepali Members
All members of MenEngage Nepal were invited to join for the final day. The regional updates and future plans of the network were shared with the members, along with updates from other countries.
Renushi Ubeyratna, who supports the coordination of MEASA as part of Foundation for Innovative Social Development Sri Lanka, commented: ‘meeting with wider membership of MenEngage Nepal led to many reflections on our journey and progress as well as crucial member feedback from MEA Nepal members.’
The Nepali version of the Accountability Standards, Code of Conduct, and Core Principles were launched among the members, who had the opportunity to provide feedback on these key documents.
MenEngage Alliance South Asia extends their heartfelt thanks for the active meaningful contributions to make this Annual Meeting a success.