In 2011 the international development organization 'BRAC' has pledged to observe International Men's Day in Uganda. Below is a recent BRAC blog entry announcing their intention:
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day on March 9, 2011, BRAC Uganda asked it's staff and program participants to think about the meaning of International Women's Day. Specifically, the initiative aimed to create awareness and explore widely held perceptions of International Women's Day. Broadly, the initiative sought to bolster BRAC's commitment to establish a gender sensitive working environment.
The responses, which were compiled into a word cloud, reaffirm BRAC's commitment to achieving gender equity. Some of you may be wondering "with all this talk about International Women's Day, what about men?" In keeping with BRAC's gendered approach to addressing equality, BRAC Uganda will launch a similar initiative on November 19, 2011, International Men's Day. Stay tuned!
BRAC Uganda is also celebrating the expansion of a $45 million partnership with the MasterCard Foundation to scale BRAC's innovative microfinance multiplied model. Announced yesterday at the Skoll World Forum, this partnership will enable BRAC to expand its current network of 85 branches to 129 branches, benefitting more than four million poor Ugandans.
GIVING BOYS THE BEST POSSIBLE START IN LIFE: 2011 INTERNATIONAL MEN'S DAY
In 2011 Men and Women from more than 40 countries are calling on people around the world to unite and focus on “Giving Boys The Best Possible Start In Life”. Organizers of International Men’s Day (www.international-mens-day.com), which is celebrated annually across the globe, are inviting individuals and organisations to consider how we can improve the way the world supports boys in the run up to the next International Men’s Day on Saturday 19th November 2011.
Organizers are promising the biggest boys’ weekend the world has ever seen as the worldwide observance of International Men’s Day shares a 48-hour partnership with Universal Children’s Day on Sunday, 20 November 2011 and is endorsed by the United Nations.
International Men’s Day 2011 is asking people around the world to focus on five key challenges that boys all the over the world experience in areas of health, education, family life, violence and life choices and consider how we can all come up with local solutions to the global problems that boys face.
The people who support International Men’s Day – who include the international authors Warren Farrell and Steve Biddulph – have warned that while it remains important to focus on the specific needs of women and girls around the world, that it is more important than ever before that we don’t ignore the specific needs of the world’s boys and the men they will grow up to become. Warren Farrell states;
“In the last 30 or 40 years we've really helped girls and women develop and that's a wonderful thing but I've also seen that our sons have begun to drop out of school at a much greater rate, fall behind in reading and writing, and fall behind in almost every other psychological, social and academic area. We are on the verge of a crisis with our boys that is equivalent to the financial crisis that many of us didn't see until it came upon us. International Men's Day is one of the very few alerts in the world to that crisis. It is an early warning signal. We need to choose to pay attention to it or it will hurt us for years and decades to come."
The good news is that together we can make a difference. They five key challenges that the International Men’s Day team suggest for focusing the collective minds of people who want to take action and give boys the best possible start in life are:
- HEALTH AND LIFE EXPECTANCY: Why are boys around the world more likely to die before the age of five and why do boys in every continent look forward to a much shorter life than girls? What are the reasons for boy’s higher likelihood of suicide? What action can we take to give boys the best possible start in life and help them live longer, happier, healthier lives?
- EDUCATIONAL FOCUS: Why are boys in richer countries underperforming girls and also less likely to be in education, and why are tens of millions of boys in poorer countries still not completing a primary education? How can we address truancy, and poor literacy rates which leave boys prone to adult unemployment, substance abuse, depression, and poverty? What action can we take to focus on boys’ education in a way that gives them the best possible start in life and closes the gaps between girls and boys and rich boys and poor boys?
- TOLERANCE OF VIOLENCE: Why are we so tolerant of violence and abuse against men and boys and why do we still tolerate a world where we send boys to fight the wars among adults? What actions can we take to help boys’ grow up free from violence and challenge our collective tolerance and support of violence against men and boys?
- RIGHTS TO FATHERHOOD: How can we give boys a right to family life that gives them an equal opportunity to know and experience both their father and mother and ensure that their role as a future father is equal to a girls role as future mother. What actions can we take to give every boy an equal right to fatherhood?
- REAL LIFE CHOICES: How can we make sure that every boy has opportunities to make a range of positive life choices in terms of work, family and leisure and reduce the number of boys whose life choices are limited and end up poor, illiterate, unemployed, homeless, imprisoned and isolated? What action can we make to help every boy get the best possible start in life and make a positive transition form boy to man that makes the world a better place for everyone?
To help respond to these challenges, the International Men’s Day team are inviting any government, organisation, community or individual that wants to give boys the best possible start in life to take part in the biggest boys’ weekend ever on International Men’s Day (Saturday 19th November 2011) and Universal Children’s Day (Sunday 20th November 2011). If you have an idea for an event or a project that can help respond to one of the five challenges to give boys the best possible in start in life we encourage you to highlight it as part of International Men’s Day celebrations for 2011.
Feel free to contact the International Men’s Day Coordination team at www.international-mens-day.com to share your thoughts on giving the best start to boys. This year we are giving out a prize certificate for the IMD FLAGSHIP PROJECT which illustrates the best solution-oriented approach to one or more of the five areas listed above.
A NOTE ON GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE:
In theory, gender-based violence is ‘violence that is targeted at women or men because of their sex and/or their socially constructed gender roles’.1 It includes, but is not limited to, various forms of sexual violence.2 Understood in this way, both men and women can be victims and perpetrators, and the violence is gender-based owing to configurations of gender ideas that justify or naturalize it. However, with rare exceptions, international efforts to address gender-based violence, and documents and reports advocating for and evaluating such efforts, have so far tended to focus primarily on the kinds of gender-based violence to which women are exposed.
Although adult men and boys are sometimes acknowledged as victims of sexual violence, as well as other forms of abuse, these kinds of harms have not generally been analyzed or discussed at length in efforts to counteract gender-based violence. For instance, men and boys are frequently victims of interpersonal community violence because of their sex and or socially constructed gender roles. For example, a male-female couple walking along the street at night may find that the male, but not the female, is bashed by other, often unknown male perpetrators because the male is considered physically stronger, and therefore a potentially higher threat, or he may be considered a more socially sanctioned gladiatorial target than a woman (etc). In this all-too-common case the male only may be targeted and bashed, often to death. Likewise in conflict/war situations where males are singled out for forced conscription, or are murdered because of their male gender role in conflict situations. Equally, male victims of family and partner violence also exist and provide another example of gender-based violence; the man or boy is bashed or is sexually abused as a target gender. For these reasons we must begin including males as victims in all definitions of gender based violence.
1. Women’s Caucus, ‘Clarification of the Term “Gender”’; available at http://www.ytech.nl/iccwomen/ wigjdraft1/Archives/oldWCGJ/resources/gender.htm (accessed 2 February 2006).
2. In addition to rape, sexual violence is now understood to include sexual slavery, forced impregnation, sexual mutilation, and forms of harassment or humiliating treatment such as being forced to disrobe publicly; see Human Rights Watch (2003).
While gender-based violence has recently emerged as a salient topic in the human security community, it has been framed principally with respect to violence against women and girls, particularly sexual violence. In this article, I argue that gender-based violence against men (including sexual violence, forced conscription, and sex-selective massacre) must be recognized as such, condemned, and addressed by civilian protection agencies and proponents of a ‘human security’ agenda in international relations. Men deserve protection against these abuses in their own right; moreover, addressing gender-based violence against women and girls in conflict situations is inseparable from addressing the forms of violence to which civilian men are specifically vulnerable.