Panellists at a “Men and Boys Dialogue” are of the consensus that men and boys have a pivotal role in promoting gender equality and girls’ empowerment.
According to them gender equality was a ‘win-win’ situation as society benefits from the contribution of females who take leadership positions.
The panelists were discussing the topic,” Male Activism to Promote Gender Equality and Women and Girls Empowerment” organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the British Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The event was part of activities of the UNFPA’s month-long celebration of International Women’s Day and the FCDO’s Africa Gender Month.
Issues discussed by the panelists were, ‘the role of men and boys in promoting gender equality’, ‘the socialisation of men and boys in patriarchal systems and its effects on gender equality’, ‘how to be a supporter of women’s empowerment and gender equality’, and ‘strategies men and boys can leverage to break the gender norms and existing biases towards women’.
PHOTO: The panelists, Mr Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko (right), Executive Director of STAR Ghana, Dr. Foster Nanewortor (2nd right), a lecturer and Business Coach, Master Jeremiah Komla Mawunyo Jnr (2nd left), a pupil of St Martin Deporres School and Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye ( first left) at the dialogue.
Mr Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, Executive Director of STAR Ghana, observed that “due to our cultural values and the false ‘macho’ narrative, men feel threatened when women step out of the norm.”
Women, he said, have a lot to offer in the home, the community, and the wider society therefore communities and work places should create opportunities for them to take up challenges.
On his part, Dr. Foster Nanewortor, a lecturer and Business Coach stressed the need to change the narrative and encourage males to recognize the ability of females to excel in male dominated spaces.
“Because of our male centred cultures men have been socialis ed to believe that there are specialised spaces for women, but in reality, this is not the case”, he added.
Master Jeremiah Komla Mawunyo Jnr, a pupil of St Martin Deporres School Accra and winner of the JSA Phenomenal Abrantie (Gentlemen ) Award and said males should learn to recognise and appreciate the efforts of females to excel in any endeavor and support them to realise their dreams.
The moderator of the discussion, Dr. Esther Ofei-Aboagye urged males to develop themselves and acquire leadership skills so they do not feel threatened by empowered females.
“There’s space for all of us to prosper, so both boys and girls should be given the space to develop so that none feels threatened,” said Dr. Ofei- Aboagye.
She further called on men to set the right examples in the home and community so as not to unintentionally socialise the young boys to grow up thinking that some spaces are for only for females.
PHOTO: Dr. Agnes Kayitankore, UNFPA Deputy Representative delivering her statement at the dialogue.
In an opening statement, the UNFPA Deputy Representative Dr. Agnes Kayitankore reiterated that a gender equal world - free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination cannot be achieved without the collaboration and partnership from males.
“There is no way we can achieve zero preventable maternal death if males are not involved and they are supportive. We have to in particular engage men in the issues of reproductive health, family planning and gender-based violence – for gender transformation in order to achieve gender equality”, Dr. Kayitankore emphasised.
Additionally, she said, male involvement is needed for a holistic approach to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence.
Dr Kayitankore also noted that harmful and rigid expectations about what certain genders can or should do can place everyone’s health at risk, citing for instance that gender norms which treat women as property of men and reinforce notions that the man should take all decisions about a woman’s health and body may deprive her of seeking contraception services to delay or space her pregnancies
She urged men not to be threatened by the successes of women on the social ladder because it benefits society, adding that the UNFPA has over the years strengthened its advocacy in engaging men and boys at all levels of the society. at the community level.
In a brief closing statement, Mr. Felix Wood, Upstream Threats and Demography Advisor, FCDO Ghana indicated that men must support the gender equality discourse instead of being part of the problem.
He said the FCDO has a strategic vision to protect the empowerment of girls, particularly in conflict situations, adding that the organisation is integrating gender equality in its work and tracking its activities to ensure that girls are freed from the shackles of gender equality.