What you need to know:
- Faith Nashipae, who spoke virtually during a CSW67 side event, called on governments to institutionalise male engagement and include it in their policies and national strategic plans.
- She also called on the UN to approve and include International Men's Day and World Day of the Boychild on its calendar.
- She also appealed to the UN to appoint champions for male engagement and inclusion to ensure continuity and support of the gender equality agenda.
A gender champion is pushing for the involvement of men and boys in increasing positive masculinity, ending violence against women and girls, and promoting women's empowerment.
Faith Nashipae, the brains behind Nitasimama Imara Boys' and Men's Programme, wants the United Nations (UN) to fully involve men and boys in gender equality campaigns, saying they hold the key to its realisation and ending violence against girls and women.
Ms Nashipae, who spoke virtually during a side event at the concluded CSW67, called on governments to institutionalise male engagement and include it in their policies and national strategic plans.
The Men and Boychild ambassador called on the UN to approve and include International Men's Day and World Day of the Boychild on its calendar. She also appealed to the UN to appoint champions for male engagement and inclusion to ensure continuity and support of the gender equality agenda.
“Men and boys are the biggest perpetrators and violators of gender-based violence (GBV), which was the reason we needed to focus on them. They have been sidelined in the GBV fight, despite being one of the most important players, something that has derailed the campaign. This is why we need to recognise and involve them to make the world a better place for women and girls to live in,” said Ms Nashipae.
The side-event was co-organised by the Thriving Communities Africa and the State Department of Gender and Affirmative Action under the theme ‘Amplifying Gender Transformative Approaches: Male Engagement and Inclusion in Preventing Violence against Women and Girls’.
Ms Nashipae noted the Nitasimama Imara Boys and Men programme rolled out in Kenya in 2021 has presented great success with multiplier effects towards promoting gender equality and accelerating the fight on ending GBV at the community level.
The programme, which is being implemented in partnership with UNFPA Kenya, has already been rolled out in Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet and West-Pokot counties. It entails the training of male champions and equipping them with the knowledge to support women’s and girls’ rights at the community level, and sensitise their communities to the consequences of GBV and harmful practices, among them female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.
It specifically targets boys and older men aged 10 and above for empowerment as champions and agents in fostering transformative social, gender and cultural norms.
Ms Nashipae revealed that owing to the success of the Nita Simama Programme, her organisation has designed an ambitious plan to reach out to 100 million boys and 50 million men in Africa by 2030, hence not only increasing positive masculinity but also helping end GBV and promoting women development.
However, to enable them to realise this ambitious strategy, Ms Nashipae noted systems and structures need to be established and strengthened. “We are, therefore, appealing to the UN to appoint champions for male engagement and inclusion to ensure continuity and support of the agenda,” she told Nation.Africa in an interview.
The activist also called for increased financing to facilitate male engagement and inclusion structures and programmes and involvement of the private sector to promote positive modelling of masculinity through adverts and commercials.
Male engagement is increasingly being recognised as critical to advancing gender equality and equity. It is necessary not only for women's empowerment but also to transform social and gender norms that reinforce patriarchy and inequality and harm both women and men.
UN Women is, for example, leading the way in championing male engagement in gender equality push. Its work is anchored to the belief that achieving gender equality is about transforming unequal power relations between men and women. This involves challenging notions of masculinity and traditional perceptions of manhood.
It requires men to question power dynamics in their actions or their words at a personal, interpersonal and societal level and to take responsibility for change.
The organisation holds the view that men need to be engaged as gender advocates to speak out as active agents and stakeholders who can transform social norms, behaviour and gender stereotypes that perpetuate discrimination and inequality.
Men are the leading perpetrators of GBV across the world. According to the World Bank, violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that affects one in three women in their lifetime. The numbers are staggering, with 35 per cent of women worldwide having experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
Globally, about seven per cent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, with as many as 38 per cent of murders of women committed by an intimate partner. About 200 million women have experienced FGM, with men being the biggest beneficiaries of the cut.