Men play an important role in ending gender-based violence and we must act now

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Despite collaborative efforts to stop sexual and gender-based violence, this threat continues to plague Malawi women and girls. An unacceptable number of women experience violence in their lifetime.

According to the latest 2016 Malawi Demographics and Health Survey, 34% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 had physical violence, 14% sexual violence and 23% psychological violence during the 12 months prior to the survey. Reported that he had experienced.

This suggests that violence is a routine experience for women and adolescent girls. They grow up in violence and often have little opportunity to escape from those who threaten, hurt, or hurt.

The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates this situation, increasing cases of violence, especially during school closures, trapping women and girls in their homes and putting further pressure on their families and working lives.

However, in the face of these challenges, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) does not suffer from the scope of the problem. On the contrary, we are determined to face more head-on than ever, to help track down those who hurt the women and girls who serve, and to protect and defend the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable.

To tackle this problem, we need men and boys as well as women and girls on our side. We are essential for anyone who witnesses violence against women to stand up, for those who feel afraid of women to speak, and for men and boys to find a solution to eradicate this violence. Must be part.

Early role models are very important

During their formation, girls and boys are deeply influenced by their family and social environment. In Malawi, these stories remain fixed in inequality between women and men. As boys grow up, they do so in social and cultural traditions that are detrimental to women. Behaviors that provide a woman’s distorted perception begin at home.

From an early age, boys are given so-called “hard” tasks, and girls are perceived to have “soft” tasks such as washing dishes, cooking, and cleaning the house. These so-called soft tasks dominate the role of women in the home and are unpaid and underestimated. More than this, the task consumes all the time. There is no time to socialize, grow as an individual, or make progress in areas such as education. The loss of this opportunity increases the inequality between women and girls in society.

Traditions are usually perceived as harmless to many. But we now know that tradition can carry many myths that strengthen inequality and bring toxic masculinity to boys. Often, under pressure from peers, members of the senior community, and even parents, boys grow up with a sense of superiority and a false sense of power over women and girls.

In adulthood, this makes men feel socially dominant, forcing them to exert their strengths and sometimes hide their sense of anxiety and fragility. This lack of respect for women and girls and the inability of men to fully empathize with women are often the main root causes of sexual and gender-based violence.

Male as a change agent

The challenge for the future is not to dilute Malawi’s rich traditional heritage. But what we need to understand is that traditions are dynamic and can be adapted to fit the period in which they exist. Traditions that cannot be adapted disappear. Flexible and prosperous. Tradition also does not work in a vacuum and is shaped by power relations.

Changing rooted behaviors and traditions is not an easy challenge, especially in patriarchy, to prevent women from being exposed to harmful practices. In Malawi, some customs give men and boys many privileges. Moreover, despite strong evidence that children benefit from the influence of the father as much as the mother, the role of the father is undervalued.

Men need to be encouraged to understand their well-being in different ways. Men often ignore warning signs and indicators of their mental and physical health. The main reason for this is to pressure men to present a strong and masculine image that prevents them from seeking help for fear of not looking like a man.

I have seen men become fragile and unstable due to the distorted sensations of what constitutes men’s success and well-being. Gender stereotypes undermine how men perceive themselves and their self-esteem. In a society where men have to be positive in order to be accepted, women feel forced to be obedient.

Both women and men deserve emotions and the right to have emotions. And don’t be ashamed or guilty of being “strong” or “sensitive.”

It is not always easy to convince those with these privileges to give up on them. But they need to join us not only to combat this inequality, but also to crush this violence experienced by women and girls. We not only give them privileges, but also consider violence unacceptable and urge them to actively participate in the growing number of men and boys who are willing to face it.

Spotlight shines

Violence against women is a major threat to achieving development goals. Empowering women, girls, boys and men is crucial for Malawi to reach its Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. To do this, you need to end the violence. We at UNFPA are working within the United Nations family and have learned that for all communities one solution is not a problem that applies to all. Multiple channels are needed for sexual and gender-based violence, and females and men are absolutely necessary as part of these solutions.

The United Nations and the European Union are working on this through a spotlight initiative in Malawi. An important lesson we learned early on was that including men and boys as part of the solution was not necessarily a problem, but immediate results.

Allow men to speak

In this regard, we assist in training leaders on how to target sexual and gender-based violence, create a valuable forum for honest conversations on violence, gender and masculine, and address the issue. We are developing important strategies for the communities we work on. We use forums such as husbands’ schools and fathers’ groups to find their own community-driven solutions. This shows that men think that both women and men need to tackle the problem as well as women.

The two male champions are Sheikh Hannah and Senior Chief Muromba. These are examples of men who recognize themselves as an important part of the solution to sexual and gender-based violence.

In Machinga, Sheikh Hannah is at the forefront of statements against sexual and gender-based violence. During his visit to the local mosque, he regularly discusses the negative effects of violence with local men and boys.

Senior Chief Muromba is also a very active community influencer. He has been actively working not only to promote equality between men and women, but also to outlaw these traditions that promote inequality. By using his authority to invalidate the marriage of children and target other harmful practices, he has become a brilliant example leader for others. These men help change the behavior of fellow men and boys. “My challenge to all men and boys in Malawi is to join us, oppose sexual and gender-based violence, break the cycle of violence we are witnessing, and eliminate these harmful practices. It ’s about ending together. ” Masaki Watanabe, Deputy Representative of the UNFPA Country Office in Malawi.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNFPA – East Africa and Southern Africa.

Men play an important role in ending gender-based violence and we must act now

Source link Men play an important role in ending gender-based violence and we must act now

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