The Uncommon Man

May 29, 2008

MRI in Liberia: National GBV Task Force

Today we traveled back to the Ministry of Gender and Development office for a meeting of the National GBV Task Force. The meeting was attended by over 30 representatives of various national and international NGOs. Unlike the meeting I attended in November 2006, most participants were Liberian.

After a tedious protocol of reviewing last month's minutes, and a reading of statistics collected, we had 15 minutes for a presentation about the GBV program. We had also invited leaders of the women and men's action group in Chocolate City, Ben and Zoe, to talk about the impacts of the program on their community. Along with Ester Karnley, Advocacy Manager at IRC, we were a great team. There were many questions and requests for assistance in developing male involvement, and we encouraged other agencies to use IRC staff as a training resource.

During the afternoon we facilitated a workshop on male involvement in GBV prevention for IRC staff who were not part of the GBV program. Two GBV staff, Ester and Edwin, did a brilliant job of engaging the group in two activities (Beliefs About Men and The Man in the Box), and modeling how women and men can share leadership together. They drew the group into the discussion in a supportive and encouraging way that made everyone feel respected and valued. This was followed with a slide show we had prepared about the history of male involvement in the GBV program, beautifully narrated by the four GBV staff who were present. The slide show ended with pictures of men's projects in Zambia, Nigeria, Rwanda and the United States.

After more questions and discussion, we ended the workshop with each person describing a next step they could take. The responses were beyond our expectations. The two IRC Deputy Directors talked scheduling regular times when GBV staff could lead more discussions. Many spoke about talking with their wives or husbands. Others suggested inviting staff partners and children to a similar program. One man, an IRC driver, said for many years he has transported GBV staff, but never really knew about the program. Now he will be going home and talking with his wife about these ideas. Other men said they were very much changed by the experience and wanted to know if IRC could help them set up a men's action group in their community. Gertrude said this was the first time a GBV program was well received by other IRC staff. The feeling in the room was filled with encouragement and possibility. As the IRC Deputy Director, Elijah said, "Liberia is really ready for this now!"

In connection,
Steven Botkin

To read all Liberia entries in chronological order and to see photos from the trip, click here.

Posted by at May 29, 2008 11:36 AM

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