The Uncommon Man

October 02, 2007

The CARE Training Begins

Today was the first day of our training on Engaging Men in Ending Violence and Promoting Positive Masculinity with CARE Rwanda. It seems fitting that the United Nations has declared today, which is Gandhi's birthday, International Non-Violence Day.

Recognizing the cross-cutting importance of this training, CARE staff from many different programs in Rwanda were present, as well as CARE staff from neighboring Burundi and Tanzania. Participants also came from other local NGOs, including two from the Rwanda Men's Resource Centre. In all, 25 men and women expectantly gathered in a Kigali meeting hall.

As usual, giving people an opportunity to stand and introduce themselves, with the bamboo pole, is a moving experience. To help set the context for the training, Delphine Pinault, Health & Orphans and Vulnerable Children Sector Coordinator did a presentation on GBV in Rwanda, and Maimouna Toliver, Maternal and Newborn Health Fellow, did a presentation on reproductive health in Rwanda. The following activities brought forward lively discussions about violence, and the group was very interested in exploring the subtle power dynamics in gender relations, such as whether withholding love or sex is a form of violence.

This unique opportunity to talk honestly about these issues among women and men was reflected by the intent eagerness in the room. And the ability to learn and practice these skills with each other was noted as a foundational part of a social and cultural change process.

We ended the day asking participants to place themselves on an agree-disagree continuum in response to a series of questions. It was a beautifully instructive experience to see the range of opinions about who should be responsible for contraception and pregnancy, whether men should defend their honor with force, if necessary, and if a man's word should be the final decision in the home. The honesty and vulnerability is allowing us to support them in learning how to dialogue across differences, and begin to address some of the deepest challenges in the work of engaging men.

Posted by Jorge at October 2, 2007 12:04 PM

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