Promoting Positive Masculinity in Our Communities
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that usually kicks off annually on 25 November and runs until 10 December during the International Human Rights Day. As we reflect on this period, it is time to interrogate the new culture of violence that has hit our country currently. It seems to get worse by the day, seeing the daily reports on violence against women and children. Most recently, there were two gruesome murder cases of women and children, by men who were close to them and were supposed to be their protectors, men meant to be their last line of defense.
As if that was not enough, two gross instances of brutality against women were caught on CCTV cameras. One of a man supposed to be a leader assaulting a female worker while another one showed a man attacking a female guard at her workplace. What was worse is how these men hit at the women, as if fighting with their fellow men! The question is; has masculinity become a GAME OF MIGHT? Has gender equality become synonymous with physical strength? This is a serious conversation that needs to be engaged if we are going to protect our women, children and the elderly. Men traditionally were the protectors of the community. In times of war and calamities, they took charge and made sure women, children and the elderly were safe. They would die for them rather than watch them get into trouble.
However, modern times have changed all this and today, men have become perpetrators of violence against the very vulnerable gender they are meant to protect. The subject of Gender Equality has brought anger and bitterness with everyone fighting for space. Yet, all that it entails is to give everyone an opportunity to be who they are meant to be. It is not about questioning the authority of the men or challenging their manhood as is usually stated. It is necessary for everyone to understand that men and women will never be equal.
On the contrary, the two genders are so different, yet they complement one another. It is therefore important to keep the peace and live harmoniously with one another to keep healthy families. Men and women, wives and husbands and in totality, parents need to know that whatever they do or say in front of their children impacts heavily on them and into adulthood. They learn from what they see and if they see conflict and violence, then they pick it as a way of life and continue it through their adult lives. The male child needs to be mentored by the adult men on positive masculinity which respects women and children. They should see themselves as the preservers of the future generation and the values they put into practice today will be the foundation to build on healthy families.
At Caritas Nairobi, the Gender Program through its various projects has taken initiative to spread messages of positive masculinity. Through the Catholic Men Association’s program, ACMA Social Development Program (SDP) and its other program Beacon Boys Program, these messages are emphasized through different activities and learning sessions for both fathers and the boys. These are such as positive fatherhood, role of fathers in their sons’ lives, effects of Gender based violence on families and Life Skills to help the boys cope with issues of life such as self-control, resilience, decision making etc. The men have taken on the role of mentorship more seriously and are leading by example in keeping the boys in check. Men are therefore called to bring positive change among sons, thereby becoming a legacy.