New Delhi: A high-powered panel of United Nations Population Fund has assessed the possibility of involving men and boys in gender equality work in India and the world.
It came to the conclusion after taking stock of the progress made since International Conference on Population and Development (ICDP) 1994 and the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing in 1995, during which the role of men and boys in advancing gender outcomes was brought to the fore.
"We have clinching evidence to show that engaging men has worked in different parts of the world, be it in 11,000 men stepping forward to oppose female genital mutilation in Niger or taking responsibility for the care and nurturing of children in Cambodia and other parts of the world," said Kate Gilmore, Deputy Director of UNFPA.
However, the real challenge was in changing the ambit of male engagement, she stated.
"We need to recognize that men are engaged in problematic ways and have been mobilized in large numbers for advancing armed conflicts; hence the 'He-for-She' campaign launched by UN Women excites me as it strives to build on positive deviation from the existing norms and challenge the status quo on scale," Gilmore said.
She urged the delegates "to take the discourse beyond the genteel precincts to the margins."
With six out of 10 men admitting to violence against women in the recent UNFPA-ICRW study on 'Building Evidence on Masculinity: Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference: Insights from a Multi-Centric Survey in India,' the focus of the session was on strengthening ways of engaging men effectively to perceive gender justice and gender equality as "win-win" for both men and women.
Gary Barker, Co-Chair MenEngage Alliance, USA, said that this would require men to shed their privileges, their entrenched views on masculinity and recognize their vulnerability.
He also stressed on the fact that "the gender revolution cannot be reduced to a log frame" and that the big challenge was that of bringing men into the care economy.
"It is an uphill task and the evidence is extremely discouraging," he added.