LISTENING TO THE VOICES OF MEN IS CENTRAL TO ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY

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By Precious Mupenzi

  • Velenkosini Nsibande, Social Work Supervisor at the Department of Social Development, emphasises the importance of listening to men’s realities to understand their experiences better.
  • The EMPOWAMEN Annual Summit in Johannesburg provided a safe space for 3000 men to discuss issues affecting them, encouraging dialogue on modern masculinity and the wounds men carry.
  • Collaboration between various stakeholders, including government, faith-based organisations, and NGOs, is crucial in addressing gender-based violence, with tailored interventions needed for different age groups and target audiences.

“Men’s realities and plights are worth listening to for men and other members of society to gain a better understanding of the lived experiences,” says Velenkosini Nsibande, Social Work Supervisor at the Department of Social Development. 

He was speaking during the EMPOWAMEN Annual Summit held at Mosaiek in Johannesburg under the theme: “Redefining Modern Masculinity.”

A gathering of 3000 men created a safe space for men to discuss issues that affected them. The summit encouraged men to engage in conversation around issues facing men today and speak to the wounds that men carry with them which impact the way they behave and respond to the world.

“Men should provide their own perspective on the empowerment of men. Empowerment of one gender should not be to the disadvantage of the other. Men tend to view some of these issues in a way which minimises them,” said Nsibande.

Dealing with the issue of interventions and initiatives that address the plague and the assumption that these interventions are often tackled and directed at adults, who are most likely resistant to change and require an ongoing behavioural programme. Sibande stated that success in the fight against gender-based violence depends on combined efforts from all sectors of society, government, faith-based organisations and non-governmental organisations.

“We are all crafting creative ways of addressing the issue to ensure that all target groups are reached. Patriarchy, toxic masculinity, gender norms, attitudes, and behaviour, are all targeted for success.”

He further said that the Department of Social Development is collaborating with various stakeholders to address the plight.

“We just need to scale up our successful programmes and ensure that messaging to various target groups speaks directly to their needs. Boys and young men require different approaches to those used for older men and programmes should distinguish between these different groups.”

Under the topic: “ Future of a Boy Child”, Refiloe Mohale, General Manager at Youth Start Foundation said the traditional masculinity system has produced men who are at the heart of gender-based violence.

“Boys do not cry and men are providers are some of the things that have created men who are not in touch with their emotions.”

Echoing the talk by Thabo “T-Bose” Mokwele, author and director at TBose Productions under the topic: “Fatherhood”, one of the delegates, Given Ngomane(35) from Pretoria said fathers should model the kind of behaviours they would like their children to emulate.

Ngomane applauded the organisers and partners for creating a platform for men to deal with the issues that affect them, including gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). We are moving towards the right direction as a country. Men’s voices are critical to end the scourge of GBVF.

He further reiterated the point that fathers tend to be gentle with the girl child versus the boy child, and this affects how children turn out as adults.

“It is important to note that focusing on a girl child and neglecting a boy child only worsens gender-based violence-related cases. As parents, we need to change the approach, empower both children and be good role models.”

 

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