December 28, 2007
MRC of South Texas December Column
To the People of San Benito
By Emiliano Diaz de Leon, Executive Director
Men's Resource Center of South Texas
The San Benito News graciously provided me with a venue this past year in which I was able to share my voice on behalf of the voiceless â€“ the victims of violence whose voices we can no longer hear because a partner silenced them with a gun, the victims whose screams are muted by the brick walls of their home, and the victims who are too afraid to speak. As their voice, I want to leave you in my final column for the year with a message of both hope and challenge.
Looking at the family violence statistics for 2006 (as those for 2007 have yet to be compiled), there were 295 incidents in San Benito compared to 302 the year before. This slight decrease provides a glimmer of hope that change can occur. Unfortunately, it also highlights the fact that our efforts to end domestic violence must continue as there are still a large number of victims who continue to suffer at the hands of their partners.
We must no longer allow the plight of these victims to fall on deaf ears. We must hear their cries, however faint they may be and raise them up to full volume in order to improve our community. We can no longer remain silent, while our mothers, sisters, aunts, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates endure violence from the men in their lives. By remaining silent, we give perpetrators the green light to treat women and children as their property to do with as they please.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." We must all take some sort of action, big or small, because we all have a stake in the outcome, and as we begin a new year, it is the perfect time to forge ahead with a plan of action. Institutions, like city government, the school district, and local churches must lead their constituents, students, and followers down a path of nonviolence by focusing on prevention rather than constantly responding to violence after the fact, and individuals must hold them accountable by speaking out, demonstrating, calling, or writing letters to the editor about the issues of domestic and sexual violence.
Each of us is a piece of the puzzle. How we come together determines what the picture will look like. I urge you to rise to the challenge and to do your part. As insignificant as you think it may be, it is still more than what was being done yesterday and combined with the efforts of others, it can power the change we seek in order to create a picture of San Benito that we can all be proud of.
December 27, 2007
Justice Dept. Releases '05 Intimate Partner Violence Data
New data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that partner violence and domestic homicide remain costly and devastating problems in this country. Although the overall decline in partner violence in the last decade is encouraging, "it is clear that our nation is not yet doing nearly enough to keep women and children safe," said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler.
December 03, 2007
MRI at International Conference in Salzburg
Greetings from Salzburg, Austria! (Click images for larger size.)
Monday, November 26, 2007
The worldwide movement to engage men and boys in sexual and reproductive health, preventing gender-based violence, and positive masculinity is taking another significant step forward this week as 50 men and women from around the world gather here for a technical consultation, hosted by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund and Promundo.
Arriving from places such as South Africa, Brazil, Sri Lanka, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom, we will be reviewing and discussing programmes and policies for engaging men and boys in the promotion of gender equality and health equity. This technical consultation will inform the development of a toolkit that will contain examples of good practices and lessons learned in engaging men in sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, fatherhood and maternal, newborn and child health.
And, most important of all, we will be continuing to strengthen the connections that will form the foundation for a global network of men and women joining together to work toward a vision of families, communities and a world of peace and equality.
It is exciting that Men's Resources International can be part of this event and movement building on this scale, and I will do my best to send updates and photos during the week so that you can participate in some way in this historic occasion.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
For the past two days the MenEngage steering committee and international members, a group of 14, has been meeting to discuss the formation of country and regional networks and a global "MenEngage" alliance. There is a tremendous amount of work on engaging men and boys that is going on around the world on every level. Grassroots awareness-raising and community organizing has been happening in places as diverse as Cambodia, India, Sweden, and Jamaica. Research projects are underway and being launched on local and international scales. DVDs, curricula and best practices documents continue to be produced. An Asia Pacific regional MenEngage coordinator has been hired, and a global symposium on engaging men is being planned for November 2008. A MenEngage website will soon be launched which will serve as a vehicle for resource sharing and communications.
The field is mushrooming more quickly than any of us expected, and there is a feeling of trying to move quickly to keep up with all of the developments. I am honored to represent Men's Resources International among this powerful group of men and women, and to add our voice and experience to this developing alliance. I have volunteered to serve on a task group to identify strategies for increasing relationships with women's rights organizations, and another task group on increasing our capacity for resource sharing and referrals.
There is much work to be done, and a recognition of the precious opportunity of being all together in person from so many corners of the world. The energy that comes from working on a shared vision of this scale is exhilarating and humbling.
I look forward to the next three days when we will be joined by another 30 people to work on a best practices toolkit that can become another valuable resource for this movement.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
En route back to the United States, I am reflecting on the experience of the last three days sitting together with 40 representatives of United Nations agencies, the World Health Organization, and national and international civil society organizations (NGOs). Everyone in the room was deeply invested in strategies for engaging men and boys in violence prevention and family and community health. Many had only recently begun to be interested in this field, but a remarkable number from as diverse locations as Cambodia, South Africa, Norway, Brazil and Australia have now been involved for many years. The accumulated experience and wisdom was inspiring and humbling.
Our purpose was to provide input and advice in the formation of a "toolkit" (or "sewing box" as a doctor working in Eastern Europe kept insisting) of good practices to be published and made available on the internet. Unfortunately, most of our formal time together was spent with PowerPoint presentations about many of the participants' programs. However, the opportunities for networking and learning from each other were tremendous.
There were many people who were working in or from Africa, and I helped to convene an informal networking meeting for this region. We talked about the recent MenEngage consultation in Tanzania with representatives from a number of south and east African countries, and the national and regional networking activities of Men's Resources International. Great enthusiasm was expressed for intersecting these initiatives into a larger African network. MenEngage, UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) and IPPF (the International Planned Parenthood Foundation) agreed to provide seed money to hire a coordinator for a mapping and needs assessment of existing networks. Holo Hachonda, who is from Zambia and has recently left a position with IPPF in Nairobi, agreed to serve in this position. MRI will be arranging for Holo to visit western Massachusetts when he is in the United States in January.
I met with Juan Carlos Arean of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, and Todd Minerson from the White Ribbon Campaign to explore the creation of a North American MenEngage network. We discussed the recent roundtable in Boston of U.S. based men working with men on violence against women prevention, and the growing number of White Ribbon activities in the United States, and agreed to work together to plan for a survey to map current programs, resources and needs.
Once again, it became obvious that as this field expands the need for capacity building resources at the local, national and global level will continue to grow. As I said in my closing comment of the conference, even an excellent toolkit will need experienced advisers, mentors, trainers and consultants to assist in the translation from paper (or website) into actual practice. Many people were interested in MRI programs, activities and strategies, and I expect many fruitful follow-up conversations. We will keep you posted via this website and our email list of developments as they occur.