Men at a Women’s Conference

There are a few of them. If you look carefully and closely enough. Scattered around the room was the lesser spotted male. Men at the Commission on the Status of Women, standing up and with women to prevent and end violence against women. I’d like to know how many of the 6,041 registered delegates are men. Now that is a statistic I’d like to see.

Today’s day of briefings for NGO’s had a host of panel discussions on issues such as trafficking of women and girls, engaging men and boys, and good practice in preventing violence against women. One of the presenters in the men and boys panel was Bafana Khumalo from Sonke Gender Justice Network in South Africa. He outlined 10 points required in engaging men and violence prevent and end violence against women. These are:

  1. Create and universally implement school curricula and education on gender equality and preventing gender based violence. This includes out of school youth.
  2. Scale up nation wide education on the laws on gender based violence so that people know and understand the law and their rights. Also education on patriarchy, the dangers of it and its harmful effects on men and women.
  3. Scale up bystander interventions. It is no longer acceptable to say this is not my business.
  4. Scale up high quality evidence of including men and boys in the response in ending gender based violence.
  5. Reach out to boys in the home who have suffered violence so that they don’t become violent in return from what they have seen and experienced.
  6. Look at the causal relationships between violence against women and alcohol consumption
  7. Restrict access to guns and small arms. This is critical in the fight to end violence against women. Bafana noted the recent high profile case of Oscar Pistorius at this point.
  8. Prevention programmes must be in tandem with women’s economic. empowerment programmes so that women’s agency is enhanced.
  9. Engage men as fathers and provide parent training. Men need to take responsibility and share of work in the home and care for children. Laws need to enable this to happen and support this.
  10. There is need for support on research and evaluation on integrated programmes  on what works.

I was interested to hear the point on alcohol. Bafana carefully worded his point so not to blame alcohol for violence and fuelling that particular myth but rather we need research on why alcohol seems to reduce ability to make good choices.

What was missing here was a focus on including faith leaders, as transformers of cultures, in the process of prevention. Sonke do have a programme of engaging faith leaders but this was not mentioned. Sonke run a campaign called ‘One Man Can’ that encourages men to live gender equal lives and prevent violence. See for more info. Apologies that I’ve not learnt yet how to embed a link on IPad.

The organisation I Co-Direct, Restored, also has a campaign on engaging men called ‘First Man Standing’. This is in conjunction with Christian Vision for Men and asks men to respect all women, challenge other men’s attitudes and actions, and join in the cause of ending violence against women. Find out more at

What do you think of Bafana’s  10 point plan? Would you add anything? Would you remove any?


One thought on “Men at a Women’s Conference

  1. elaineging

    The elimination of VAW has everything to do with working towards right relationships between women and men, so I’m pleased to read the focus on work with men in Bafana’s 10 point plan. While I concur with most points, though they all need contextualising, especially 2, 3 & 8, I wonder about point 9 – how would such a legal framework be implemented – do we not need to change attitudes?


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