By: Aliker David Martin
A few days ago, I got an invitation from Women in Action for Women (WAW) to make a presentation on,”Strengthening the process of participation of women and girls in applying UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions.” at Churchill Courts Hotel in Gulu.
This was a workshop that would host more than 10 women focused charitable organizations from most of the districts of greater northern Uganda.
WAW is a charity organization based in Gulu District whose focus is improving the quality of life of women and girls by enhancing their knowledge and skills.
Amidst my busy schedule I wondered, “Why can’t they find a competent lady to address fellow women on how to strengthen their participation in peace building in their communities?”
I called back and informed them I would not and thought it would be unfortunate to deny another lady such a great opportunity in their empowerment solidarity movement.
The lady then retorted, “That is why we need you; we need a man who believes in the competence of women but also the involvement of model men in our cause.”
In the year 2000, the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1325) formally acknowledged through the creation of Resolution 1325 the changing nature of warfare, in which civilians are increasingly targeted, and women continue to be excluded from participation in peace processes.
The resolution specifically addresses how women and girls are differentially impacted by conflict and war, and recognizes the critical role that women can and already do play in peacebuilding efforts.
UNSCR 1325 affirms that peace and security efforts are more sustainable when women are equal partners in the prevention of violent conflict, the delivery of relief and recovery efforts and in the forging of lasting peace.
The goal of this resolution is to increase the participation of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.
While discussing the challenges of domesticating the UNSCR1325, women leaders shared their frustration with the culture of masculine dominance in peacebuilding.
So why are men dominating the peace building processes even when research confirms that the participation of women guarantees more durable peace?
In an effort to address these concerns, this women leaders agreed to the need to involve men in their empowerment campaign in promoting the participation of women in applying UNSCR 1325.
But why would women involve men in their empowerment campaign?
First and foremost, the empowerment of women is a fact and reality that our generation has to live with. Therefore, living in denial is not an option but men have to rediscover themselves and their new role in this new world order of gender parity.
In any case, at the birth of every man is a mother next to a nurse(possibly a woman); in sickness and joy potentially is a mother, sister, daughter, or wife and similarly in a man’s death bed.
Development agencies increasingly argue that patriarchal culture norms are standing as the key barrier to women’s empowerment, henceforth projects must target on changing attitudes of men and boys in order to create lasting improvements for women and girls.
The role of men’s attitudes and behaviors should not be ignored in the debate and the design of gender related policies. If you don’t change men’s attitudes towards women, then gender programs which focus on women first won’t be successful. There is need to think of men’s real gender realities if men are to support women in their empowerment campaign instead of becoming protagonist, they can be stakeholders in this campaign.
A case in point is; a woman was asked what was wrong with men in their village disowning their responsibilities? She says, “men are pretending to be mad yet they are hiding their irresponsibility behind drunkenness.” Another man observed that men are only silently protesting the new changes in family roles that make them vulnerable to their women.
Therefore, men have to be brought into those efforts in a meaningful way. This approaches should be gender transformative [challenging deep gender norms and discrimination]; they shouldn’t just be inviting men in the door or setting quotas so that we have a few more women or a few less men.
Conclusively, the approach to empowering women needs to change from that which disenfranchises men to that which appreciates our cultural values and norms to that which makes men equal partners in their progress.
The author is a Weekly Blogger based in Gulu, Uganda.