Scope of Men Engage in Nepal
Why do we engage men and boys in ending Violence against Women and Girls (VAW)? It is not a synonym of other VAW projects for the sake of securing funding or showcase of solidarity. It is all about changing the Mind-Set for transformation or long lasting change in the society and to cultivate a culture of gender equality which leads towards the path of peace and prosperity.
It is very easy to say and many individuals and organizations are nowadays coming forward to extend the solidarity in engaging men and boys in Nepal even though formally the campaign started already 2007. Here, I like to share a public statement I hear in public bus every day in Kathmandu, don’t you have your mother, sister at your home……..? Indeed, the fundamental gap is here. What did we do regarding to VAW in more than two decades activism in Nepal ? Do we educate our children, our students, audiences etc. by saying, women have equal human rights as men virtue of human being ? Aren’t the women’s right also human rights?
The women’s right movement is clouding with negativism towards men as perpetrators, as power abusers etc. Indeed, men are not born violent. They are learning the violence culture from beliefs, attitudes and norms what it means to be a man throughout their socialization process. Here, I would saymanization process. Meanwhile, many men are in leadership positions, working in humanitarian setting and mostly women and girls experienced various forms of violence at home, street, school, workplace and everywhere. Unfortunately, in many mundane cases, both men and women are not aware whether they are committing or experiencing violence In this connection, engaging men and boys is very crucial and urgent in many ways. Because not all men commit violence and not all men feel responsibility or holding accountable against violence or they remain silent in front of the violence. Those who remain silent thought that speaking up against violence is not their business at all or they lose the prestige or manhood which allows to continue the violence in the society.
Indeed, underlying causes of violence is twofold; unequal power relations and harmful beliefs and practices where power has play in and out, up and down and everywhere and all the time. By and large, is Nepal’s movement on engaging men and boys just adding a project at the name of different institution ? It should beyond of it. It should challenge oneself and others to hold accountability or should reflect the accountability at personal and relational level. The lack of conceptual clarity is key hindering factor among actors of MenEngage Alliance and others today. More importantly, are actors ready to learn and challenge their personal biases and beliefs? Likewise, are actors really Ally or review their dynamics of power and privilege while interacting with others. Shifting power is tough everywhere but possible yet the stereotyped project works never bring the lasting change in society.
The horizon of MenEngage is getting wider and urgently demanded by the current political change. Today, there are many questions floating over the sky of MenEngage Alliance for its significance. The new constitution 2015 has scope of changing, formulating new policies, acts towards and around gender equality. Is MenEngage Alliance ready to take stake on it? For instance, does it show its commitment in revising the school curricula? Likewise, the culture of impunity is institutionalized well where culture of silence is flowing along with. Can alliance members put the VAW desk individually or along with National Women Commission or Women Police Cell. Today, many known cases are disguised or hiding because of not getting support from men position holders as well as the poor mechanism within the system. Can this alliance show its commitment as ally e.g. can go court by holding the file of poor, dalit, rural women’s case? Or can it stand to make violence free public transport in Kathmandu? Who will create the gender justice environment in Kathmandu? Aren’t all members of MenEngage working in VAW, peace building and women empowerment? what is the commitment of funding agencies in this regards?
Since last six months, the country is on fire, unlawful killing, destruction are rampant and there are many women and girls, men and boys who suffered directly and indirectly. In such horrific scenario, what is the role of MenEngage? Don’t they speak against it or not their responsibility to reach out the bottom to start the spark of dialogue?
To me, it is more important to count how many women and girls, men and boys protected from VAW, how many victims or survivors reported and rehabilitated than how many members are working in various networks, alliances or organization or funding agencies? Each case is cent percent and should be valued.
The 16 days VAW 2015 has already started from November 25. There is competition to host huge program at stars but who care about the how many survivors from the last years rehabilitate or what is the trend of violence of the last year or what is the new role for future. Preaching the slogan by saying, survivors are leaders but who creates the space for them? The dignity, confidentiality, respect of survivors for the jargons for the training, whereas survivors are subject to violence everyday, everywhere as like martyrs died once, they alive died several times.
How do men transform through voluntarily effort at Jumla. Once, should invest more times, money and have to have deep level of patience if you seek long lasting resulting marginalized areas.