Involving men in the fight against Gender-Based Violence

20 Dec 2013

imageParticipants at the Strategic Male Engagement Stakeholders Consultative meeting

In order to develop gender-based violence (GBV) programs that include prevention, as well as survivor services, there is a need and opportunity to engage men as active allies and partners. UNDP in partnership with NANGOF Trust hosted a 2 day strategic male involvement stakeholder’s consultative meeting on 9 – 10 December 2013 in Rundu, Kavango region.

In attendance were members from various non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations and officials from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare. The Meeting aimed to define the role of men in the movement against GBV, to create attitude and behavioural changes among men, to create a road map for men to engage others, and to mobilize men and boys of all ages to take a stand against violence towards women and children as well as to foster equality and gender solidarity.

There are a number of reasons why mobilizing men to engage in efforts to stop violence against women is important. In Namibia, 40% of females have experienced physical violence compared to 28% of their male counterparts, according to a 2009 study on Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.

Speaking at the meeting the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative and Chairperson United Nations Gender Theme Group Mr. Neil Boyer emphasized that “as a country we cannot develop with half of our population living in fear.” Sharing the shocking statistics on violence from the Women & Child Protection unit and the Windhoek City Police, “GBV cases have nearly doubled in 2013 in the Kavango region as compared to last year 2012. Rape has increased by 10% and murder has escalated by 43% in Windhoek.” Until gender-based violence is recognized as a community-wide issue, it remains marginalized and ignored as a women’s issue and as a domestic issue. Since men commit the overwhelming majority of violent acts against women and girls, efforts focusing only on women will not succeed.

In her key note address, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Hon. Rosalia Nghidinwa commended the UNDP and NANGOF for organizing the first event of its kind, and urged them to continue in their efforts in 2014. The Hon. Minister emphasized the involvement of men in the fight against GBV as fundamental because “they are part of the problem and therefore must be part of the solution, and it will help men and boys to identify ways of managing their anger.”

The event formed part of the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV. Every year the United Nations declares the period from the 25 November, International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, to the 10 December, International Human Rights Day, as the 16 Days of No Violence Against Women across the globe. The Ministry of Gender Equality & Child Welfare together with UNDP marked the end of the 16 Days Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and celebrated the International Human Rights Day in Rundu with community members.

Notably, the Ministry of Gender Equality & Child Welfare also officially recognized the need for male involvement in GBV work and outlined it as a priority in their National Plan of Action on GBV 2012 - 2016.