Engaging Men

In early November, 2012, I posted the note below on a several LinkedIn groups related to gender issues.  I received a fantastic response in terms of anecdotes/experiences as well as references to programs, people and documents.  In order to give something back to all of those who contributed as well as the many others who were interested (and ‘liked’ the discussions), I’ve collected all of the references received so far, added links wherever I could and listed them below.  I will now post the link to this site on the groups.  Thank you, everyone, for your generosity and passion!  I offer a quote attributed to Margaret Meade (but never conclusively sourced):

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”


Request for Your Help: Engaging Men in Helping Advance Women

For an upcoming roundtable discussion on strategies for engaging men in supporting women’s programming in different cultures (Muslim, tribal, etc.), I’d like to request your thoughts, experience and comments on the topic, e.g.:

— Experiences, both successful and unsuccessful, in getting men involved in advancing women’s programming of whatever type (men may be community members, religious or civilian leaders, etc.) — what works and what doesn’t?
— Recommendations for people (men and women) who might be a valuable voice in the discussion at some point — who are they and why do you think that they would be particularly good for this topic?
— References to any media (writings, video, etc.) that includes examples of men engaged in women’s programming or otherwise provides an enlightening perspective.

Thank you so much for your interest and assistance!

—  Russell Mikel

Organizations and Activities:

—  http://www.durexnetwork.org/en-GB/socialmarketing/Pages/default.aspx

—  http://www.menengage.org/

—  http://www.lac.org.na/projects/alu/Pdf/they_have_that_heart.pdf

—  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUe9W7sbpFY

—  http://www.ifor.org/WPP/

—  The White Ribbon Campaign: http://www.whiteribbon.comhttp://ourfuturehasnoviolenceagainstwomen.blogspot.com/

—  Soul City: http://www.soulcity.org.za/

—  Brothers for Life Campaign: http://www.brothersforlife.org/

—  One Man Can: http://www.genderjustice.org.za/one-man-can/projects/one-man-can

—  ‘Raising Voices’ and ‘CEDOVIP’ in Uganda (http://raisingvoices.org/)

—  Promondo in Brasil: http://www.promundo.org.br/en/reports/

—  ‘We Can’ Campaign in Thailand”: http://www.wecanendvaw.org/

—  ‘Image’ in South Africa: http://www.wits.ac.za/academic/health/publichealth/radar/socialinterventions/10453/intervention_with_microfinance_for_aids_gender_equity.html

—  Kimmage Open & Distance Education: http://www.kodeonline.com

—  Plan Canada’s 2012 report “what about boys”: http://becauseiamagirl.ca/2011GirlReport

—  wanjalawafula.wordpress.com


—  MensWork: http://mensworkinc.com/

—  Men as Partners Program, which is part of Engender, in South Africa: http://www.engenderhealth.org/our-work/gender/men-as-partners.php

—  Wikigender: http://wikigender.org/index.php/Engaging_Men_and_Boys_to_Transform_Discriminatory_Social_Norms_Online_Discussion

—  http://www.microfinancegateway.org/p/site/m/template.rc/1.11.185620?utm_source=generalbulletin&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=General%2BBulletin%2B-%2BOctober%2B24

—  http://www.engagingmen.net/files/resources/2010/Caroline/Political_Connections_-_Men_Gender_and_Violence.pdf

—  Caribbean Male Action Network (CARIMAN): http://cariman.org/


Documents & References:

New Directions in Driving

Over the past several weeks, my wife and I have observed on multiple occasions a driving maneuver that shocked us, first by its audacity and soon thereafter by its frequency.  It apparently requires that you start in the far lane on one side of the road and then, with no notice or signaling at all, cross at least two lanes of traffic to make a turn in the other direction (e.g., a left turn from the far right lane).  We’ve dubbed this the “double-cross” for both the number of lanes you must inconvenience (terrorize?) as well as for the unexpected and misleading nature of its execution.  We were further disheartened to hear from our daughter that this practice has now spread as far as Long Island.  The icing on the cake, however, came during a recent local outing.  My wife and I were waiting behind a driving school car to make a left turn at a huge intersection.  Suddenly, the driver veered out of our lane, drove across the two lanes of cars next to us, swerved into the right turn lane and took off.  We still don’t know who these people are or why they’re doing this, but we now have a better idea where they’re learning it.

Women Leading Change in Transitioning Societies

On June 5, 2012, I attended an excellent event at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on “Women Leading Change in Transitioning Societies” in partnership with Vital Voices Global Partnership and the Norwegian Embassy (info and complete video at http://www.usip.org/newsroom/multimedia/video-gallery/women-leading-change-in-transitioning-societies).  Two panels of remarkable women, all recipients of Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Awards (http://vitalvoices.org/node/69), examined at a very personal level the challenges, risks and satisfactions of being female change leaders in some of the world’s most difficult times and places.

All of the women were impressive.  Some particular points that impressed me at the time include the following:

  • Alyse Nelson, President and CEO of Vital Voices, commented that “Women’s progress is global progress.”  Lars Heine, Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the Royal Norwegian Embassy reinforced this point by stating that from Norway’s perspective, “Gender equity is a national interest, not a special interest.”  [NOTE: Ref recent study showing that the best predictor of a nation’s stability is it’s violence against women (http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2012/05/valerie-hudson-womens-well-being-is.html) –rdm].
  • Samar Minallah Kahn, a documentary film maker in Pakistan, spoke of how she decided she needed to change from the written word to film in the local languages to show the rural and tribal people how to change deeply rooted cultural practices such as swara, in which a girl is given to one’s enemy as compensation for some wrong done to them.  Many of her videos are on YouTube (search on ‘Samar Minallah’).  She mentioned that women are often portrayed as victims in videos – we need to challenge that.
  • Adimaimalaga Tafuna’I of Samoa provided a stark reminder of the need for cultural understanding and sensitivity as she recounted how people impressed with the microfinance model try to impose it as a solution in Samoa without recognizing that theirs is a non-cash society.
  • Several women agreed that men need to be a part of the process.  Samar makes a point of showing positive male behaviors in her films for both impact and as role models.
  • Marianne Ibrahim, a civil society activist in Egypt, said of western governments that if they want to be friends with Arabs, they need to stop being friends with the leaders.  Amira Yahyaoui, a blogger in Tunisia, said that we’re talking about human rights, not just women’s rights, and women are a part of that discussion.  If you want to help, when meeting with government representatives, ask where the women are, ask to speak with them.

Why Women?

When Mohammed Yunus developed his model for microfinance in Bangladesh, he recognized the benefits of focusing financial empowerment and opportunity on women in the population that he was helping. I’m hoping to capture here and in subsequent posts some points of interest and fact on the ways that enabling women can significantly multiply the benefits of social entrepreneurship.

From http://www.opportunity.org/womens-opportunity-network/

Why Women?

  • Women represent 70% of those living on less than $2 a day.
  • Women suffer inequitably from the chronic effects of poor nutrition, insufficient healthcare and limited educational opportunity.
  • Women do 66% of the world’s work and receive only 10% of the pay.
  • Women spend 90% of their income on their families, while men typically spend only 35%.
  • Nearly 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day, and in 2012, women represent 70% of this number
  • Women who contribute to family finances have greater decision-making power, resulting in better nutrition, health and education for their children. When family needs are met, women are more likely to invest in their communities.
  • On average, women in developing countries walk 3.7 miles a day for water. (http://blockbuster.water.org/?p=355)
  • Women are owners of just one-hundredth of the world’s property, yet they make up the majority of farm laborers. (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/social/meetings/egm10/documents/Nandal paper.pdf)
  • Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people are women.

Aadhaar: Unique ID Project in India


Tunni Rai: A life without identity

29 May 2012 Last updated at 19:22 ET


“A moving glimpse into what it means to live without official identity in India.”  –rdm

India’s identity divide

  • Only 58% of children born in India are registered at birth
  • Many families don’t know about the need for a birth certificate
  • More than a dozen other documents can be accepted as proof of identity
  • Lack of papers can hamper access to public services and banking
  • Unique identity (UID) scheme launched in 2010 is world’s biggest biometric ID project
  • 200 million Indians have already signed up, target is 400 million by the end of 2012

From Wikipedia:

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) (Hindi: भारतीय विशिष्ट पहचान प्राधिकरण), is an agency of the Government of India responsible for implementing the AADHAAR scheme, a unique identification project.

UID project is known as AADHAAR meaning ‘support’ or ‘foundation’, and its logo is a yellow sun with a fingerprint embedded in its centre.

Aadhaar Logo.svg

Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will issue for all residents in India. The number will be stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information – photograph, ten fingerprints and iris – of each individual.

Thoughts on Collaboration Between NGOs

For successful practical collaboration/cooperation/coordination for the lifecycle of an aid effort, you’ll need a well-considered overall structure that addresses all aspects of the planned and anticipated interaction. It would need to define who the stakeholders/partners are and how they will interact — which means defining an acceptable process for someone to lead the coordination without implying that they are leading the aid effort itself. It will also need to reflect the reality of the situation and clearly capture the roles and responsibilities of all involved for this effort specifically, being careful to acknowledge that this agreement doesn’t compromise any partner’s independence outside the defined scope of the agreement. It should also help each partner present the cooperation in a positive light to their respective constituencies — the moral high ground being the focus on the needs of the mission (while maintaining the integrity of each organization involved).
Actions mean so much more than words, and demonstrated willingness to forego total control for a greater result (and the prospect of follow-on collaborations) is a powerful selling point. Plus, the next time, it should be easier/faster to put such an agreement in place.

A Personal Insight


Beginning in the late sixties, Piet Hein’s little book of little poems entitled Grooks showed up on new, then used, bookshelves, frequently provoking feelings of curiosity or nostalgia depending upon the reader’s history with the volume.  One of his Grooks that stayed with my wife (and, thus, with me) over many years is ‘T. T. T.’

T. T. T.

Put up in a place
where it's easy to see
the cryptic admonishment
     T. T. T.

When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it's well to remember that
     Things Take Time.

Long after we forgot the wording of the poem, the phrase ‘Things Take Time’ would help provide a needed recalibration and perspective.  And as I dealt with personal challenges somewhat later, my wife’s compassion demonstrated an honest embrace of the sentiment.  In heartfelt acknowledgement of this powerfully simple principle, I cross-stitched a tiny ‘TTT’ for her locket.

Until recently, I saw the lesson of T.T.T. as in the poem —  a lesson in patience, a reminder that doing anything significant (or well) almost always requires the benefit of time to bring it into full flower.  Things Take (i.e., Require) Time.  Now, after a full decade of effort, sadness and satisfaction deciding how to disperse all the contents  of our departed parents’  homes and then purging our own cluttered house during renovations, I am struck by another lesson in those simple words: Things Take (i.e., Demand) Time.  And when you reach our age, you can feel how important it is to parcel out very mindfully the time you have to spend on things.

In the first lesson, it is the things that are important — accomplishing things that matter, creating things that will endure: a lesson for the earlier arc of your life.  Once your life’s trajectory has passed its peak, it is time that becomes precious, and you feel the need to free yourself from reliance on the less important things that will use up that time.

Things Take Time — yes, they do.  And yes, they will.