Men’s organizations that promote gender equality and work to end violence against women are vital to advancing UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda in several key ways.
First, men’s organizations that support women’s rights and gender equality can dialogue with already established Civil Society Working Groups on Women, Peace and Security active in 40-plus countries today. Civil Society Working Groups act like a consortium of women’s organizations and women experts that promote the development, adoption and implementation of National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security. Men’s organizations that work with men in conflict and post-conflict situations to end violence against women can contribute vital information and recommendations gleaned from their on-the-ground work in refugee camps, disarmament and demobilization programs, and health programs to support the Civil Society Working Group efforts more broadly with government and military institutions.
Second, we need male champions on human security issues who are willing to lead in a new role: Men can lead by supporting women behind the scenes. This means challenging the status quo around masculinities and men’s organizations are poised to take this on. It’s important to recognize that there is a need for different strategies to reach different male actors across sectors—in health, education, or in security sector reform.
In the health and education sector, programs targeting fatherhood and boyhood/adolescent male issues will have different objectives than compared to the goal of engaging male leadership in security sector. Family planning organizations work with fathers and mothers to become equal partners in decision-making around reproductive health and childcare. Programs that target boys and young men tend to focus on exploring alternative masculinities that do not value violence as the ultimate form of power. On the other hand, success in engaging male leadership in political and security institutions does not depend on male leaders’ identities as fathers or sons. Instead, male leaders need policy support and coaching on understanding how gender equality can improve their decision-making and make them more effective at their job.
However, this is not to say that the strategies are not useful across sectors. Many of the lessons learned and methodologies developed in the health and education sectors, such as Gender Equitable Men’s scale and measuring attitudes and biases of men toward women leaders, can be used in political and security institutions to assess gender biases that act as significant barriers to the advancement of women in the security sector or leadership positions in peace processes.
Finally, UNSCR 1325 and the Women, Peace and Security agenda fundamentally aims for equality between men and women as a means to maintain international peace and security. So, do we need men to champion the Women, Peace and Security agenda?
We need them as active partners who are critically examining their roles and creating new ways to support women’s advancement.
Want to learn more? Here are four men from Lebanon, Ireland, Jordan and the US, and the organizations they work for that you should look up:
Anthony Keedi at Abaad: Resource for Gender Equality in Lebanon
Michael McKenna at YouthAction in Northern Ireland
Ma’en Rayyan at Questscope
Joseph Vess at Promundo