October 22, 2007
Men as Allies
I will never forget the day that two turbaned, bearded strangers approached me as I stood in the midst of a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. My mind instantly flooded with stereotypes of the Taliban -- whose misogynist interpretations of Islam resulted in the brutal oppression of Afghan women -- and I braced myself for the ways they could express their disapproval for the women that were gathering to enroll in Women for Women International's program. But, to my absolute surprise, the men had come to thank me for the opportunities that our organization had brought to the women, their families, and their community.
As evidenced by our name, Women for Women International is a women-led organization that serves to empower socially-excluded women in conflict-affected parts of the world. Thus, perhaps like so many other women-oriented organizations, we are constantly discussing the issue of reaching or not reaching out to men, involving or not involving men, and discussing or not discussing with men the work we do for women. During the last 14 years of working in conflict and post-conflict areas, I have come to realize that just as the images of women in war that are shown in the mainstream media overwhelmingly show downtrodden victims, the images of men in war are equally confined to that of the violent aggressors, rapists and warmongers. Neither stereotype is fair. ...
Posted by Daniel at October 22, 2007 04:55 PM