Ubuntu Declaration calls for men’s engagement work to support feminist systems change agenda

The MenEngage Ubuntu Symposium has concluded with the launch of the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action – a bold set of calls and commitments for those working to engage men and boys for gender justice.

The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action was co-developed by participants during the 7-month long symposium. It reflects the agenda that has been collectively shaped over the course of 300 hours of discussions, involving more than 600 speakers and over 5,000 participants.

The text draws upon the expertise, experiences, insights, and collective hopes of activists, researchers, advocates, academics, and practitioners working to advance gender equality, LGBTQI rights, and social justice for all. It represents important advancements in the political agenda for those members, partners, and allies of MenEngage Alliance who work with men and boys in this work.

The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action reflects a deepened acknowledgement, solidarity and commitment towards a systems change agenda, which has long been advocated by intersectional feminist voices, organisations, and leaders. It also centers values and practices of accountability, decolonisation, intergenerational dialogue, allyship, and inner work for social change.

Read the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action in full here.

The document was unveiled with a live reading by MenEngage Alliance members around the world as part of the Ubuntu Symposium Closing Event on 22 June 2021.

The text calls upon actors within and outside of MenEngage Alliance to take on these commitments for action. It is addressed to all NGOs, INGOs, research institutions, networks, campaigns, UN agencies, governments, donors, multilateral agencies, private sector, the media, and all institutions and individuals involved or planning to be involved in this work.

The Ubuntu Declaration builds upon the 2014 Delhi Declaration and Call to Action, which set a benchmark for members, partners and the broader field. The Delhi Declaration and call to Action followed the longstanding lead of feminist movements of identifying patriarchy as part of the root of gender and social inequalities. It was a milestone in affirming the work of transforming masculinities as a key approach in dismantling patriarchy.

Watch the live reading of the Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action at the Closing Event.

Bafana Khumalo, co-chair of MenEngage Alliance, and Co-Executive Director at Sonke Gender Justice, said: “The Ubuntu Declaration and Call to Action is a significant development for all who work to challenge patriarchal norms and values around masculinities, as well as those engaging with men and boys for gender equality. Intersectional feminist voices have been leading the way when it comes to the stark truth that current systems of economics, politics, healthcare are not working. These systems are failing humanity, and especially those on the margins of the margins. This urgently needs to change and the symposium was a strong call to support this through a feminist systems transformation agenda. The Ubuntu Declaration aims to center this transformative agenda for a future based on sustainability, equitability, justice, and peace.”

Bafana’s fellow co-chair, and White Ribbon Canada Executive Director, Humberto Carolo added: “The symposium has pushed forward our shared political vision for our work. It has set directions and ways forward for strengthening the agenda of the work to ‘transform masculinities and engage men and boys’ in advancing women’s rights, LGBTQI rights, and gender and social justice. Importantly, it has emphasised the importance of working together – not only from a single-issue approach, but in solidarity with our partners across social justice movements. Now it is time to act and build on these commitments.”

72 people from 54 countries were directly involved in drafting the text, mandated to create a platform that represents the shared commitments and aspirations of the symposium. More than 100 technical inputs were also received. A working group was formed that met 13 times during the symposium, developing the text over 8 rounds of revisions and refinements.

The text is currently available in 3 languages, and members of MenEngage Alliance are encouraged to translate and contextualise the text in further languages.

19 August 2021