Tuesday, November 27, 2007

16 Days, Day 3: Engender Health's Men As Partners Program

Hopefully by now everybody has been made aware of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. As we tend to talk about gender violence a lot in the land of feminist blogs, it may be more helpful if more people who write primarily personal or political blogs, which may or may not be feminist, to be talking about gender violence, but that, of course, doesn't mean we should avoid talking about it for these 16 days.

For my part, during the 16 Days, I'd like to point people to various resources for men around the issue of gender violence. The 16 Days site has a good list of resources for men, which I'm working from.

Engender Health's Men As Partners Program
From their site:
Around the world, women carry disproportionate responsibility for reproductive health and family size. And while women receive the bulk of reproductive health education, including family planning information, gender dynamics can render women powerless to make decisions. Men often hold decision-making power over matters as basic as sexual relations and when and whether to have a child or even seek health care. But most reproductive health programs focus exclusively on women. EngenderHealth recognizes the importance of partnership between women and men, as well as the crucial need to reach out to men with services and education that enable them to share in the responsibility for reproductive health.
To address this, EngenderHealth established its Men As Partners® (MAP) program in 1996. Through its groundbreaking work, this program works with men to play constructive roles in promoting gender equity and health in their families and communities.
Another great thing about Men As Partners is it's international focus, which is often lacking in feminist discussions (though I see this slowly changing), even on this very blog. And, like any good feminist organization which gives some focus to men, Engender Health and Men As Partners recognize that men are harmed by traditional conceptions of masculinity, as pointed out in an article on the site, Transforming Male Gender Norms to Address the Roots of HIV/AIDS:
It is widely recognized that gender norms—societal expectations of men’s and women’s roles and behaviors—fuel the global HIV epidemic. Women’s low status in many societies contributes to limiting the social, educational and economic opportunities that would help protect them from infection. At the same time, traditional male gender norms encourage men to equate a range of risky behaviors—the use of violence, substance abuse, the pursuit of multiple sexual partners, the domination of women—with being manly. Rigid constructs of masculinity also lead men to view health-seeking behaviors as a sign of weakness. These gender dynamics all play a critical role in increasing both men and women’s vulnerability to HIV.
It's great to see an interesting organization of international feminists helping to reach out to men. Go check 'em out.
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