“It’s time for men to understand that when women are destroyed, it’s not a women’s question, it’s a human question. And if it’s a human question, men really need to be a part of this fight.”- Dr. Denis Mukuwege.
Systematic gender discrimination, sexual and domestic abuse against women, female infanticides, or dowry murder are not only women’s issues. These are human rights issues.
Dear men and boys, YOU TOO have a huge responsibility and an important role in preventing gender discrimination.
Gender inequality does not only affect women but has a negative impact on the economic and social growth of society. According to the 2013 Human Development Report (UNDP), “gender inequality is especially tragic not only because it excludes women from basic social opportunities, but also because it gravely imperils the life prospects of future generations.”
Every individual in society, irrespective of their gender should take an active role in eliminating all sorts of gender biases. Men need to understand that creating a gender-equal society is required for the overall growth, development, peace, and progress of the country. They should ensure that women and girls have equal rights at work and at home.
It should NOT only be the fights of women for their own freedom and rights. Would you like to watch your mother, sister, or daughters oppressed, discriminated against, or violated because of their gender? If not, then what difference can YOU bring in your own life to eliminate or reduce the existing gender inequality? What else can YOU do to be the change agents in your community or in your family?
Historically men had taken many major steps to stop harmful social practices or social evils in many countries. In India, till the early nineteenth century, women were burnt alive after their husband’s death. Young girls were married to 70/80-year-old men. And after the death of these men, their widows used to be social outcasts for the rest of their lives. Girls were not allowed to go to school. Social and religious reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar fought relentless battles against these evil practices and brought justice to women and girls. And they were MEN.
Eliminating gender biases, stereotypes or social practices where women’s rights are violated are extremely challenging. In most societies, these are deeply embedded in the culture. Therefore any individual or organization trying defy them face enormous retaliation from the community. Women’s rights activities often face severe backlashes and harassments. Let’s admit the fact that fighting For women’s rights and equality is not easy for a man, especially when there are strong conflicts with one’s cultural, social, or religious identity.
1. Understand the issue
Along with knowing the gender equality issues in the global context, you can read or refer to these very useful books to understand why women’s issues are so important and how to tackle some issues as a man or boy-Men’s Guide to Feminism: 5 Books on Feminism Every Man Should Read.
You can also read: Feminism and the Advocacy of Women’s Rights: Why Are these Relevant Today?
2. Start with yourself and your family
3. Be Surrounded By Like-Minded People
Read this story of an 18-year-old young boy in California who supports the rape trauma survivors Fighting Against Sex Crimes for insipiration.This is a very good example of how one can start!