V4C Marks International Men’s Day
The International Men’s Day is an annual international event celebrated on November 19. It is believed to have been inaugurated in 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago. The day and its events find support from a variety of individuals and groups in Australia, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the United Nations.
This year’s theme is: “Keeping Men and Boys safe”; the special areas of focus include:
- Keeping men and boys safe by tackling male suicide;
- Keeping boys safe so they can become tomorrow’s role models;
- Tackling our tolerance of violence against men and boys;
- Boosting men’s life expectancy by keeping men and boys safe from avoidable illness and death;
- Keeping men and boys safe by promoting fathers and male role models.
To mark this year’s International Men’s Day, Denis Onoise, Key Influencers Lead for Voices for Change participated in a radio call-in show earlier on today with the theme ‘Reassessing the Definition of Masculinity’. The following are highlights of his discussion:
Why most men behave in certain ways, often times using their ‘macho’ nature to oppress and supress women?
Men, women, girls and boys have been made to believe some practices relating to relationships between men and women. While boys and men are generally taught to be brave, hard, aggressive and be the bread winners; girls and women must be soft, submissive and in-charge of the kitchen. There are other beliefs that because women are emotional, they cannot make good decisions and so cannot be leaders. These are the beliefs that create inequality in the society.
What is the role of Voices for Change?
Voices for Change is a programme essentially working to bring about change in the social norms stated above and many others that underpin gender inequalities. The project seeks to tackle gender discrimination and inequality in Nigeria through a society wide approach. Changing attitudes and behaviours is critical in creating an enabling environment for other positive change and development such as access to education, health care, etc. to occur in the lives of girls and women.
Observations made during the phone-in programme
Unexpectedly, the phone-in programme recorded more calls from women than men; with only one man calling after many women. The only male caller expressed concern that the call for gender equality could in the long run backfire with women taking the lead and discriminating against men. He went on to argue that given that only women may benefit from such campaign, he wasn’t sure that men should support women in the process to bring about this change.
In his response, Denis Onoise insisted that it wasn’t correct to think that gender equality is synonymous with ‘women taking over’, but more about creating enabling environment for girls, boys, men and women to achieve their potentials in life. He acknowledged the concern raised; which also support the uniqueness of V4C’s work in that women’s groups need to engage men more closely as the changes that women need requires both men and women working together. He reminded the caller that the Nigeria of today is changing very fast and that men need to change to speak up and speak out for the right things to happen.
In conclusion, Denis Onoise argued that today’s man can be strong, but use his strength and power to support his wives and daughters for improved relationships so that life can be more meaningful for every member of the family.