What role do men play on the path to gender justice? Key people from Mission 21's international network addressed this question in the Positive Masculinities workshop. Action plans emerged to involve men more actively in the work for gender justice.
"The topic affects every one of our projects and all of our partner organizations," said Dorina Waldmeyer at the beginning of the international workshop on positive images of men. Dorina Waldmeyer is responsible for the topic of gender justice in Mission 21's international programs and projects. She basically emphasizes that "men and positive images of men play a key role on the way to more gender justice." Barbara Heer, head of the Women and Gender Unit at Mission 21, adds, "We need to involve men and boys more in our work in this area."
The workshop met with great interest. In the video, organizers and participants have their say.
Mission 21 and its partners have been campaigning for decades against violence against women and are committed to gender justice. It is essential to strengthen the role of women, to improve their role in society, to support those affected, and to address constricting and devaluing ideas of what it means to be a woman. But more is needed. It is equally important to examine stereotypical ideas of masculinity and to question role models.
The workshop, which took place on the Indonesian island of Bali, met with great international interest. Participants included directors and staff from various organizations, including Mission 21 partners as well as organizations from the Cooperation community Kogewho made the workshop possible. The participants contributed to the workshop with their questions and experiences and expressed positive views on the outcome.
"The approach is new," said Risdo M. Simangungsong of the Jakatarub Interfaith Youth Network in Bandung, Indonesia, for example. "We have been working for a very long time for more gender justice and overcoming gender-based violence, but we have not looked more closely at male images in the process. It's very valuable for me to learn from the other participants how we can strengthen positive images of men."
Nur Hasyim, founder of the New Men Alliance in Indonesia said, "This workshop opens up a discussion that allows us to critically examine images of men. It also gives us space to seek alternatives and look at the concept of masculinity in a way that reflects issues related to gender equity and violence."
Mission 21 has been promoting the focus on "masculinity" with new projects since this year. A total of six projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America will focus on this topic in 2023. In all of them, the aim is to reflect on the role of men in order to come closer to true gender justice, to counter gender-based violence, and to encourage men in positive roles.
"Patriarchal structures can only be changed if we have positive male role models in families and communities. We will empower male leaders to be advocates for gender justice and for women's human rights," says Dorina Waldmeyer.
The work continues beyond the workshop: Participants have developed action plans for their next steps and will share the lessons learned in Bali within their organizations. Another workshop in Latin America is being planned.
Text: Miriam Glass, Mission 21