Why empowerment of men is important

Involvement of men creates a conducive environment to reducing gender disparities and challenging stereotypical representations of them.

THE issue of gender equality is a complex one. While it is important to strive for equality between men and women, it is equally important to recognise the disempowerment of men.

Involvement of men creates a conducive environment to reducing gender disparities and challenging stereotypical representations of them.

Evidently women's empowerment initiatives have had desired results in this regard. On the other hand men and boys have been left behind, clouded in a systematic culture of hegemonic norms.

Hence, the missing piece on the puzzle of equality may lie in the configuration of inclusion, particularly on the aspect of enlightenment of men.

Women are now taking on more roles in both the workplace and in the community, which is beneficial in terms of quality work and diversity. At household level, women are now embodying breadwinners roles, which has resulted in men, in some instances, not feeling man enough due to patriarchal tradition or providers status quo.

Alas few attempts have been made to enlighten men on the importance of gender equality in relation to the economy and household activities. With a few only acknowledging its significance.

In reality, men are operating in a society where there are predetermined rules regarding their identity, role, and responsibilities. Moreover the traditional family model views men through the invisible weight of culture — ‘those with affluent mercantile position are seen as potential mates’ — consequently this perpetuate the cycle of masculine omni-potency.

Overwhelming multi-media platforms often depict masculinity as emphasising narrow roles and responsibilities and preconceived notions against men with a strong moral sense as weak.

This necessitates a re-examination of how gender issues are addressed, and that gender should not be viewed as a one-sided issue for women alone, but rather as a complex relationship of power and vulnerability in which both men and women maybe disadvantaged.

The discussion of equality for men is met with opposition from those who oppose this transition, and the traditional lens through which marriage and lobola is viewed tends to reinforce preconceived notions.

Gender bias can be overcome by new approaches and when the old is rejected, the new is born and matures, leading to the process of equilibrium following the law of negation of negation UNiTE’s 2023, 16 Days of Activism campaign theme is “Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls”. It emphasises the importance of funding various prevention strategies to prevent violence.

It utilises key global political and advocacy channels to create momentum and mobilise collective action to end violence against women. It is essential to recognise that men are both participants in women's disempowerment, and victims of the patriarchy and hegemonic masculinity, and must be included in initiatives through the creation of platforms for their empowerment and enlightenment during and after 16 days for awareness and a ripple effect in the future.

Nyawo is a development practitioner.

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