Friday, March 30, 2018

Gaining more praise and marginalising women’s voices 7/9

Although men have only recently been significantly involved in violence prevention, they gain more credit and receive more praise when they do this work (Pease 2008; Linder and Johnson 2015). This is particularly problematical when women have done most of the work in organising an event and men get most of the credit for being involved. It is apparent that in most of the local White Ribbon events, women do most of the administrative and background work in getting the project organised. When men are present for photos and interviews, women’s work may not be sufficiently acknowledged. 
As a man who has being doing this work for many years, I have often felt uncomfortable about the accolades that I have received from some women and men that is out of proportion to the contribution I have made. It is also understandable that other women would not be happy about the praise that I and other men have gained from our involvement in this work.

One of the often stated concerns about engaging men is that women will be marginalised and silenced (Marchese 2008). It has been widely noted that when men challenge men’s violence they are more likely to be listened to because of their privileged status. Messner et al. (2015) refer to men’s unearned praise and the greater likelihood of being listened to as the ‘pedestal effect’. This has contradictory effects. On the one hand it means that men’s privilege is being used for a progressive outcome of influencing other men, while on the other hand it may further marginalise the voices of women who are less likely to be heard (Murdolo and Quiazon 2016). Will men’s voices be heard as more authoritative and will this lead to the further suppression of women’s voices? It is important when men receive such unearned praise to make the point that they would not be doing the work if it was not for feminist women who have mentored and taught them almost everything they know (Atherton-Zeman 2009).
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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Excluding women 6/9

Although there is a place for men organising separately against men’s violence and all male groups can be sites of progressive personal and social change, such all-male groups need to be transparent and responsive to feminist concerns. When I first began running workshops with men and invited women as observers, I was criticised by many men in the violence prevention sector who argued that men needed a space without the presence of women to speak authentically about their experience. This view has been more widely noted in the literature (Murphy 2009). Piccigallo et al. (2012), for example, talk about the importance of men being comfortable with each other and being able to talk openly without the presence of women.
Marchese (2008) documents accounts of men’s anti-violence groups who exclude women from being involved in their activities. However, as Murphy (2009) asks, why should all-male groups be required for men to have honest conversations? Given what we know about all-male groups producing male peer endorsement of men’s violence (DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2013), men only groups seem more likely to reproduce dominant forms of masculinity than challenge them.  If men meet in all male groups in addressing violence against women, how can they be accountable to women when the exclusion of women reinforces the notion of male authority? Stoltenberg (cited in Marchese 2008) argues that if men feel uncomfortable speaking about their experience in the presence of women, then this in itself emphasises the importance of why they need to learn how to communicate outside of traditional frames of masculinity and male sociality.

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Using traditional masculinity to challenge men’s violence against women 5/9

In the violence prevention field, the concepts of ‘real men’ not being violent and ‘being man enough’ to stand up against men’s violence have been used to engage men in anti-violence work. It has thus been a focus in some anti-violence campaigns to use traditional masculinity as a way of getting men involved. (Messner et al. 2015; Pease 2015; Salter 2016).  Although the aim is to redefine traditional masculinity, if traditional masculinity is a contributing cause of violence against women, then reinforcing this form of masculinity to engage men to stop violence seems fraught with problems. Goldrick-Jones (2002) asks the question about whether men can be allies to feminism if they retain their commitment to traditional masculinity which, in her view, is part of the reproduction of patriarchy. This is why the reinforcing of traditional masculinity in some anti-violence campaigns is an issue that must be addressed in discussions of accountability.

Within profeminism, there is an important debate about the extent to which men’s support of feminism requires a reformulation of masculinity or a rejection of it (Stoltenberg 1989. Connell 1995; Kimmel 2000; Baily 2012; Pease 2014).  I have argued elsewhere (Pease 2014) that constructing a new profeminist subjectivity for men will involve destabilising men’s identities as men and encouraging them to loosen their connection to masculinity and manhood.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Depoliticising anti-violence work 4/9

One of the ongoing debates about violence prevention more generally and engaging men in this work specifically, is how explicitly feminist specific campaigns should be. The level of commitment to feminist analyses and the particular form of feminism adopted will shape the ways in which accountability is understood and operationalised. I have noted previously that one of the dangers of men’s increased involvement in violence prevention is the deradicalisation of feminist analyses of men’s violence against women (Pease 2008). This may also reflect the de-radicalisation of feminism more widely
This de-radicalisation of feminism is evident in Emma Watson’s speech launching the HeforShe campaign at the United Nations. She argued that men have not been extensively involved in work toward gender equality because they have not been invited. This speech evoked numerous critiques from feminist journalists, activists and academics. Clementine Ford (2014), for example, criticised her focus on men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes and her argument that men’s freedom from these stereotypes was the foundation for women’s freedom. Rosie Fletcher (2016), also in critiquing Emma Watson’s speech, expresses concern that attempts to engage men in such ways as this soften feminism to make it more palatable to men.
There is an inevitable tension between mainstreaming campaigns against men’s violence against women and moving away from social movement politics. This tension is reflected in the differences between the more professionalised public health approach to violence prevention and the activist social movement politics of the women’s movement.  Engaging men in the context of professionalised programs and paid occupations in the violence against women sector may shift the focus away from more politicised social movement politics (Messner et al. 2015). There is also a concern about male allies making money and developing careers out of this work. Issues have been raised about men becoming private consultants in violence prevention work and using their involvement in these activities to develop highly paid careers (Messner et al. 2015).
 It is important to be mindful about how organisations that support violence prevention can use their involvement primarily as a public relations exercise rather than seriously tackling the structural causes of men’s violence against women. When sporting clubs, military organisations and male-dominated workplaces develop prevention programs with men, they need to interrogate the ways that gender inequalities are embedded in their structures and cultures, if their practical steps are to contribute to major structural transformation (Messner et al. 2015).

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Setting up a dichotomy between male allies and other men 3/9

Men often feel defensive or blamed when violence against women is addressed. Thus one of the tensions in violence prevention work that engages men is to ensure that men in general do not feel blamed for the violence that is perpetrated by some men against women (Piccigallo et al. 2012). Attempts to broaden the problem of men’s violence to include the responsibility of all men invites defensive responses from many men. This is seen as a form of male bashing that blames all men for the violence of a few men. Men often make the argument that it is not all men who are responsible for men’s violence. Rather, it is just a small group of ‘bad’ men. These men are seen as having no connection to wider forms of dominant masculinity and male privilege. Thus, in approaching men as potential allies, helpers or bystanders, the aim of engaging men in violence prevention campaigns is often to pre-empt men’s potential defensive responses (Piccigallo et al. 2012).

Consequently, many violence prevention campaigns involving men use a dichotomy between ‘good men’ and other men. Strategies have been developed to enable men to feel that by standing up against violence they are the ‘good men’ and that they can demonstrate a healthy masculinity. Being engaged as bystanders, champions and advocates, men are able to distance themselves from the wider critique of patriarchy and dominant masculinity (Messner et al. 2015). Consequently, White Ribbon campaigns and other men’s anti-violence groups have endeavoured to avoid the defensive responses by men, who may feel put off by the process of focusing on men’s responsibility, by emphasising that not all men are violent.
Goldrick-Jones (2002) refers to these ‘good men’ as ‘white knights to the rescue’, where men take charge on the premise that they know how to ‘fix’ men’s violence against women. It is important for men’s programs to avoid perpetuating the conception of the good man because it fails to recognise the ways in which all men are implicated in male privilege and gender inequality (Linder and Johnson 2015). Such approaches do not encourage men to recognise how their own behaviour and attitudes are part of the wider systems of dominance and oppression. An expressed concern of many feminist critics is that violence prevention programs developed by men may reinforce chivalrous forms of masculinity that imply women need protection by good men (Castelino 2012; Linder and Johnson 2015). Campaigns that focus on ‘real men’ and chivalrous forms of masculinity reinforce men’s dominance and power. When men present themselves as the ‘good guys’, they exeptionalise themselves from the wider problem of men’s violence and gender inequality (Hess 2014). This means that they are likely to be less aware of, and accountable for, their complicity in men’s violence. Accountability in this context, means educating men about their own privilege and internalised dominance. This is an issue that will be addressed later in this paper.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Why accountability is necessary 2/9

The concern about accountability arises from the potential harm that aspiring allies can cause. Thus it is necessary to revisit some of the dangers of engaging men in violence prevention. It is evident from research on social movements that the involvement of dominant group members can reproduce inequalities within movement organisations, such as in this case, violence prevention movements (Messner et al. 2015). The power and control located in the wider societal context of unequal relationships will often play out within alliances (Margaret 2010). This includes how decisions are made and whose voices are heard. Consequently, when men and women work together in social movements, they must find ways of addressing their differences and the relations of power within which they are embedded (Tamasese 1998). Given that men are socialised into dominant ideas about what it means to be a man and a sense of entitlement that often goes with their privileged position, how do they counter the likely bias that will come to the fore when they work with women against men’s violence?

The involvement of men in violence prevention needs to be undertaken very cautiously because many such men continue to express sexism and deny that they continue to be part of the wider problem of gender inequality (Atherton-Zeman 2009).  The purpose of accountability processes is to address this sexism and male privilege which men bring with them when they get involved in violence prevention work. Castelino (2012), for example, has documented some of the concerns that women have about the involvement of men in violence intervention and prevention, including, taking resources away from women’s services, shifting the focus from women to men, focussing on new forms of masculinity rather than on the structural relations of gender and depoliticising feminist analyses. In the remainder of Part One of this paper, I examine these and other issues of concern.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Men as Allies in Preventing Violence against Women: Principles and Practices for Promoting Accountability 1/9

This paper explores the implications of the increasing role of men in violence prevention work for the women’s services sector. There are many different ways for men to work with women in violence against women prevention campaigns. The language of male-led campaigns, partners in violence prevention, bystanders, male champions, male allies, aspiring allies and solidarity activists are but a few of the roles that have been identified for men. However their roles are defined, as men have become more prominent in violence against women prevention work in recent years, the issue of men’s relationship with women against violence services has become a subject of ongoing concern for many feminist anti-violence activists, practitioners and scholars. This paper aims to explore the nature of those concerns and the various ways in which activist men and the organisations they work within, or are auspiced by, have responded to them. 
A key issue in these discussions is whether men involved in violence prevention work should be accountable to  women against violence services in some form or not. How men themselves respond to this issue is related to a number of questions. What are the motivations for men to get involved in violence prevention? How do men understand their own positioning within relations of gender inequality? What knowledge do they have of women’s involvement in violence prevention work? How do they understand feminism and how do they engage with it?  Many men who get involved in violence prevention will not necessarily have a political analysis of gender inequality or a profeminist commitment to transforming patriarchal gender relations. They may get involved because a woman in their own life has been the subject of men’s violence and they want to play a part in ending it. As children, they may have witnessed their father’s violence against their mother. Alternatively, they may just be shocked by media reports of increasing levels of men’s violence against women. These men are at the beginning of a journey in terms of their understanding of patriarchy and their place within it. The purpose of this paper is not to establish criteria for men’s involvement in violence prevention that they cannot live up to.  It is rather to open up discussion among men (and among women) about how to guard against the potential harms that men can cause when they do not understand the ways in which patriarchy works and their own complicity in reproducing it.
There are wider issues of men’s complicity with violence against women that go beyond the violence prevention movement. Men, as policy makers and law makers within the state, as health and welfare professionals, as judges and police, as employers and CEOs of companies, all may make decisions that are not accountable to women and that minimise, overlook or ignore men’s violence against women. Although these issues are beyond the brief of this paper, they must be considered when planning violence prevention work with men to ensure that systems and structures of gender inequality are not neglected.
The premise on which this paper rests is that feminist analysis and men’s accountability to women’s services should be central underpinnings of violence prevention work with men. I acknowledge that many men involved in violence prevention may not necessarily share these premises. However, to be effective, violence prevention organisations need to be alert to the consequences for women and women’s services of engaging men in this work.
If men are to be accountable, to which organisations, women or feminists should they be accountable to and what form should that accountability take? The paper will explore why accountability is necessary and engage with political dilemmas associated with it. It will also explore different levels of accountability including personal, interpersonal and organisational forms and outline different models of accountability and strategies for their implementation.
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Friday, March 16, 2018

What actions are partner countries taking to end violence against women and girls?

There has been a growing momentum to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls. Governments have adopted international and regional policy and legal agreements, such as the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995 and the Sustainable Development Goals. At least 119 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, 125 have laws on sexual harassment and 52 have laws on marital rape. The Spotlight Initiative will build on this progress to help eliminate violence against women and girls.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What is needed to end and prevent violence against women and girls?

A comprehensive approach is needed, involving a wide range of stakeholders. It must cover the development of laws and policies, prevention of violence before it happens and access to essential services for survivors, as well as include data collection and research. Social mobilisation is also necessary to change social norms and behaviours, including men and boys, traditional and religious leaders, private sector and other relevant stakeholders. Awareness-raising campaigns on the extent and impact of violence are an important component of prevention efforts. They need to be complemented with educational programmes and community mobilization to generate sustained results. Increasing women’s participation in political processes has shown to result in better legislative outcomes for women and a more responsive state. 
Additionally, perhaps the greatest indicator of strong legislation on ending violence against women has been correlated with the existence of a strong women’s civil society movement.
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Monday, March 12, 2018

What has the EU achieved?

The EU is working together with UNFPA and UNICEF to fight Female genital mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage in 16 African countries. This is done through an innovative approach aimed at changing social norms and attitudes. The EU 
provided support to organise large-scale community discussion sessions based on human rights, collective decision-making in communities and extended social networks, and community and district-wide public declarations for the abandonment of FGM/C. These activities are starting to bear fruits: with EU and support from other international organisations, Senegal is close to becoming the first country in the world to declare total abandonment of FGM/C. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of villages declaring abandonment increased from 300 to 5,315, about 550 communities or a 16% increase per year. The project has led to comparable successes in Egypt and Sudan. In Pakistan a project is being implemented to fight poverty through women’s empowerment and community mobilisation, building social capital for better access to basic services and income generation. This is done by providing social guidance, technical and financial assistance to the rural poor in Sindh. This programme is expected to increase by 30% and diversify the incomes of over 700 000 targeted households, as well as to deliver access to public services, such as water, education and health for 70% of the targeted households. The new EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, backed by a dedicated financial envelope in the order of EUR 500 million, will enable multistakeholders to intensify action in mutually reinforcing core areas of strengthening legislation and policies, institutions, prevention, services and data at national level, advancing SDG 5 on Gender Equality
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

What is the EU doing to end and prevent violence against women and girls?

The EU’s Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 has set an ambitious target to mainstream gender actions across 85% of all new EU initiatives by 2020. Progress is undeniable: 92% of all new initiatives adopted in area of the EU’s foreign policy and 60% of all new initiatives adopted in the EU’s International cooperation and development work have been marked as mainly or significantly aiming at promoting gender equality and/ or women empowerment. In 2016, the European Commission committed EUR 419 million for specific actions for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Among the programmes, the EU funded a specific action targeting 16 Sub-Saharan countries focusing on female genital mutilation. The support (12MEUR to a joint programme led by UNFPA and UNICEF) aimed at engaging with civil society organization men and boys, traditional leaders etc., as to change the social norms which make the mutilation so largely practiced. Data for 2017 have to be released but the EU is supporting different programmes to fight against violence against women and girls. In Zambia, for instance 25M EUR have been allocated to a programme aiming at strengthen the institutional capacity of the national authorities to fight against sexual and gender based violence, to prevent it, changing the social norms and mind set which lead to discrimination and violence, and improving access to comprehensive services for victims. In very recently, a large programme to fight against domestic violence has been adopted for the Pacific region (13M EUR)  Today, the EU has launched the Spotlight initiative together with the UN, showing with this its firm commitment against all forms of violence against women and girls.
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Friday, March 9, 2018

What is the UN doing to end and prevent violence against women and girls?

UN entities continue to support the Member States of the UN to further advance the global legal and policy framework in addressing violence against women and girls. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which is managed UN Women on behalf of the UN System, provides support to innovative approaches to stem and prevent the pandemic of violence. Since its inception, the fund has provided grants to 426 initiatives in 136 countries, amounting to a total of USD 116 million. The UN Secretary General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, which amongst its many activities initiated Orange Day, proclaims every 25th of the month as a day to raise awareness. It has garnered support for other high-profile initiatives from celebrities, including sports stars in Europe, to raise the profile of the issue.
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Thursday, March 8, 2018

8 March: International Woman’s Day

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Are there reliable data to show the prevalence of violence against women and girls?

Understanding the extent, the nature, and the consequences of violence against women and girls is important to inform legislation, policies and programmes. To that end, the EU and UN Member States have made efforts to collect data and compile statistics related to the prevalence of different forms of violence against women and girls, especially domestic and intimate partner violence. The availability of prevalence data on violence against women and girls, however, remains uneven across and within countries. Quality, reliability and comparability of the data across and within countries remain a challenge.
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Sunday, March 4, 2018


  • We live in a country whose constitution guarantees total equality between men and women in all fields (articles 21 and 46) in addition to engaging the State in promoting women’s rights and enforcing such equality in practice.
  • We live in a country who signed, ratified and officially removed all reservations to the International “Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women” (CEDAW). Each signatory country is bound to adopt and apply national legislation that complies with the convention.
  • We live in a country who adopted on last August 11th, a historical and comprehensive law to end all forms of violence against women, including economic violence.
  • We live in a country whose law imposes on women to contribute to the family expenses if they own properties. (Article 23 of the Family Code, CSP).
  • We live in a country where inequality in inheritance slows down female entrepreneurship, impoverishes women and reduces their autonomy. Only 12 % currently own a dwelling and only 14 % own land. The scarcity of resources inherited by women significantly reduces their access to property and credit. This, in turn, hinders their autonomy and increase their vulnerability and that of their family.
  • We live in a country where women are more and more educated, capable and skilled (they represent 53 % of students in the secondary school and 66 % in the Tunisian university). They contribute as much as men to the household needs in all categories of expenditure. They deserve therefore, an egalitarian distribution of means and inheritance.
  • We live in a country where, despite the principle of equality between women and men, stipulated in founding texts and regulations and despite advancements obtained by women, important dimensions of gender inequality, patriarchal practices and gender based violence, remain to be addressed.
Maintaining gender inequality in inheritance is not only discriminating and anti-constitutional, but it also hampers women’s access to full citizenship status.
Equality in inheritance is a precondition to build a democracy with a full citizenship for all Tunisians and to accomplish the modernization of our society.
That's why as 30 years ago, as 10 years ago, against gender discrimination in inheritance law and against injustice, we invite you to join our fight and our big March for justice and equality in the Inheritance, which has been our struggle for decades, next 10 march 2018.
Join us, numerous, men, women and allies in saying “Yes for the Gender Equality in Inheritance”!
So that Tunisia, country of revolution, becomes also, the country of Women’s Rights!
As long as our claim will not be heard, we shall continue our fight and keep the momentum.
The Tunisian National Coalition for Equality in Inheritance
  • PS: Please share our call with friends and networks. Our gathering will start at 14 h, from Bab Saadoun to join the gardens of the Bardo Museum, where a music concert, led by AIDA Niati Director of the Conservatoire of Music "Andalousies", will be held. 18 women singers will perform in 10 different languages from the Mediterranean.
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What are the root causes of violence against women and girls?

Violence against women and girls is a complex issue that is rooted in gender inequality and discrimination, as well as unequal power relations between men and women which exist in varying degrees across all communities in the world. Low economic and social status of women increases the risk of violence that women face. Increasing economic independence is important to help survivors leave abusive relationships. Prevention work must lie at the core of addressing this challenge. But despite some promising practices, prevention interventions remain small-scale, fragmented and stand-alone activities, under-resourced and lacking impact evaluation.

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Friday, March 2, 2018

What are the consequences of violence against women and girls?

The impact of violence ranges from immediate to long term physical, sexual and mental health consequences for women and girls, including death. It also has tremendous personal, societal and economic costs all around the globe: from greater health care and legal expenses to productivity losses.

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