The Uncommon Man

July 17, 2007

The Men's Group Monitoring Guide

Our goal today was to field test the Men's Group Monitoring Guide developed by MRI marketing and communications director, Daniel Coyne, and revised in consultation with Navanita, Getrude, and other GBV management staff. After checking in at the IRC office we left for the ELWA community outside of Monrovia.

Sitting in the shade of a large burned out cinderblock building we met with members of the ELWA men's action group. They were delighted to respond to our questions about how the Male Involvement Project has affected themselves and others in their community. As sounds of drumming and singing emerged from the building, and children played noisily nearby, we listened to the men talk earnestly about how their lives had changed as a result of their involvement in the men's action group. A community leader described how he is now hosting gatherings at his home where he is "preaching" about the Men As Partners approach and helping to men to change their behavior towards women.

We then moved to another corner of the building to sit with members of the women's action group to hear their perspectives on the men's action group (MAG). They described the significant changes that the men's action group has inspired in their community and the increased their feeling of safety for women and girls that has resulted. They described how the men's action group contributed their time and money to get t-shirts printed for the women's action group, and is helping them build a women's center. And, even though there are times when the men fall back into patterns of dominating the joint meetings of both groups, the women are able to express this to the men, and the men readily change this behavior.

After ELWA we drove to Chocolate Factory (yes, there was a chocolate factory there before the war) to meet with men's and women's action group members in that community where we heard very similar feedback about the Male Involvement Project. In both places we heard stories of men's increasing involvement in the traditionally women's housework activities (such as cooking and cleaning).

The biggest challenge that was consistently described was how to make involvement in gender-based violence prevention activities economically sustainability. With unemployment at 80-90% the first priority for these men and women is to find ways to feed their families. While there is no doubt about their commitment to violence prevention and their eagerness to engage in outreach and awareness-raising in their communities, their availability for these activities is limited by this basic need.

Posted by Jorge at July 17, 2007 02:21 PM

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