WOMEN Rights organisations representatives at the two day SafAids Symposium on Best Practices in HIV and Gender Based Violence (GBV) Prevention and Gender Norms Transforming Regional Linking & Learning, say men can not be trusted as partners in the fight against GBV and there was need to put them under check.
By Michael Gwairisa
This however is despite increasing calls for male involvement and mainstreaming men in the GBV war so as to break the barriers patriarchy has installed in society.
Women Action Group, Zimbabwe director, Edinah Masiyiwa said there was need to set up women safe groups where women can discuss and deliberate on issues affecting them without the involvement of men.
“When we started long back, we did not want anything to do with involving men in our works. However, over the years, we have realised that it was important to involve them. We are currently working with traditional leaders, and men in communities to fight GBV.
“The issues to do with sex workers is a contentious issues when dealing with traditional leaders but we are making progress. However, it is critical to be careful when dealing with men as some are just in it for the love of money and not the reasons why we are pushing this movement. We need safe spaces for women where we can discuss issues affecting us without male involvement,” said Masiyiwa.
Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS) Executive Director, Ms Loice Chingandu says as much as there is need to accommodate men in addressing women and gender issues, it was critical to treat their involvement with caution as there is danger of women being segregated to the peripheries.
“Men can only be working side by side with us in addressing GBV issues. By bringing men actively on board, there is risk of women being moved to back of beyond and losing the battle in the process,” said Ms Chingandu.
She added that many a times men join in women movements due to a number circumstances which range from unemployment, economic hardships, poverty and just the opportunity to make some quick money.
Kristi Kruger from CAS&G South Africa however said there was need to answer the most critical questions when it comes to the issue of involving men in the fight against GBV.
“The big question is how do we do this, how do we involve men in gender transformation. We should also note that not all men are equal and there are certain circumstances that separates them which include societal status, wealth, physical stature among others.
“It is so difficult to assume that all men are the same and there is need to treat this subject differently,” said Kristi.
Zimbabwe has a number of Men Gender Rights organisations which include Padare who have been at the forefront, for spearheading campaigns and supporting the gender and women rights in the country.