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Thursday, January 23, 2020

What He can do for She: Can we have a gender-neutral society please?

Almost two years after the December 16 gangrape, a global symposium called MenEngage will be held in the capital to emphasise the role of men in creating a gender-neutral society.

Written by Dipanita Nath | Updated: November 6, 2014 10:22:49 am
gender-neutral-main Still from a film to be screened at a festival on JNU campus on the theme ‘Men and Boys for Gender Justice’ . (Source: Express Photo)

Almost two years after the December 16 gangrape, a global symposium called MenEngage will be held in the capital to emphasise the role of men in creating a gender-neutral society. MenEngage Global, an alliance whose members includes various United Nations organisations and hundreds of NGOs, activists and scholars from across the world, held its first symposium in Rio de Janeiro in 2009. The MenEngage Global Symposium 2014 will take place at India Habitat Centre from November 10 to 13.

Around 900 delegates from 90 countries will meet to discuss issues such as “Masculinities and the Making of Peace and Violence”, “Masculinities and the Media”, “Men and Masculinities in School Textbooks”, “Globalisation, Gender Justice and Social Movements” and “Fatherhood and Caregiving”.

“As the work with men and boys for gender equality matures, we are realising that many men and boys are themselves victims of violence and risks associated with narrow views of masculinity,” Satish Kumar Singh, deputy director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ), the country host of the event, said. The other organisers are the UNFPA, UN Women, Beijing +20 (a body that is following up on the UN conference on women held in Beijing in 1995) and MenEngage Global.

The symposium’s seven-point themes are violence, health and well-being, poverty and work, caring, relationships and emotions, sexualities and identities, peace building, social justice and inclusion, and “The Making of Men: From Masculinity to Humanity”.

“MenEngage is also an opportunity for the UN to present the vision of its work with men and boys as gender equality advocates and highlight the recently launched HeForShe campaign,” Singh said.

Speakers come from a plethora of disciplines related to gender, sexuality, conflict, violence and health. Among them are Gary Barker, a former consultant with the World Bank, WHO and UNICEF, who has researched on men, violence and conflict in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia; Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at the State University of New York; Srilatha Batliwala, a feminist activist and scholar in India; and Noelene Nabulivou, a feminist activist from Fiji.

Personalities such as Priya Paul of the Apeejay Surrendra Group will present their perspective on the issue of “Masculinity and Gender Justice: Role of Public and Private Sectors”.

The drumbeats have been resounding across Delhi for several months in the countdown to the conference. Students and activists have been raising the tempo with events such as a cultural festival in colleges called “Bystanders No More” drawing huge audiences.

From November 6 till November 9, a film festival on the theme “Men and Boys for Gender Justice” will be held at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Films such as Rules of Kitchen, in which a young man talks about gender roles and looking beyond stereotypes as he makes tea for his grandmother; Two Friends, about a dystopian world in which women and children are dead; and A Man, When he is a Man, a film set in Costa Rica in which men talk about their strategies in pursuing women — their chilling accounts interspersed with romantic songs from black-and-white films — will be filmed.

Organisers have also roped in one lakh auto-rickshaws to carry gender-friendly messages and helpline numbers.

MenEngage Global Symposium 2014 will take place at India Habitat Centre from November 10 to 13

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