The Uncommon Man

October 04, 2009

Ariving in South Africa

Great day to all.

It is incredible to think that after 18 hours of flying time, I'm ready for the day. It is with great appreciation that I bring the blessings and longing from by brothers and sisters in the United States (who wish they could be here to help) on this journey to advocate for gender justice.

I got a special blessings from one of my elders who celebrates this trip because of the long history of struggle. She stated, "How glorious that men from across the continent are coming together to share what they are doing for gender justice and positive masculinity. I have lived to see an African American as the U.S. president and now men on the continent are organizing on this scale -- it is a blessing indeed!"

I'm looking forward to meeting all my brothers and sisters who are attending this conference. I am especially looking forward to reconnecting to Pascal, who left South Africa just six months ago to support MRI's Men As Allies training and program implementation in collaboration with IRC in Cote d'Ivoire. I've heard him talk about how much he misses home, and to be here with him when is an honor.

In connection,
James Arana

Posted by James Arana at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2009

Days 1-5: Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys

Day 1: Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys

Monday, March 30, 2009

Greetings from Brazil. I am in Rio de Janeiro for the first ever Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality. This gathering of more than 400 men and women activists, researchers, policymakers, UN officials and young people from 71 countries around the world marks another historic occasion in our movement. As organizers and participants of this conference begin to gather today, I am re-connecting with dear colleagues and fellow activists from all over the world.

The Symposium is being organized by MenEngage, a global alliance of NGOs and UN agencies that began in 2004, with the goal of working in partnership to promote the engagement of men and boys in achieving gender equality, promoting health and reducing violence at the global level. The MenEngage Alliance has convened international meetings and regional consultations, and promoted the formation of MenEngage networks at the national level. Steering and Advisory Committee members of MenEngage include Promundo (Brazil) EngenderHealth, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Family Violence Prevention Fund, International Center for Research on Women, WHO, UNFPA, UNDP, Sonke Gender Justice Project (South Africa), Save the Children-Sweden, Sahoyog (India), the White Ribbon Campaign, Men for Gender Equality (Sweden) and Men's Resources International.

The steering committee of MenEngage met today. There were reports about projects, programs and activities that are now happening on every continent and many, many countries. The issue of male involvement is being actively addressed in rural communities such as in Cambodia, and India, and championed by major international agencies and United Nations organizations. It is very humbling to see how far this field has come, and fascinating to watch the whirlwind of networking and organizing that continues to build a sense of a movement.

At tonight's opening session the Symposium will be officially launched. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be welcoming participants via a taped message.

In connection,
Steven Botkin

Day 2: Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

by Steven Botkin

Last night's opening session was a remarkable experience. The diversity of people who packed the room and the level of dignitaries who spoke was a testament to how far this movement has come. The significance of this was confirmed as we watched UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speak to us (via video) about his support for this Symposium and the importance of engaging men and boys as a global issue.

Today's program was filled with plenary sessions on "Dialogue with Women's Rights Movements," "Including Men and Masculinities in Gender Equality Policies," and "Men, Masculinities and Gender-Based Violence." The day ended with a reception for the Asia/Pacific region with reports about engaging men and boys activities in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh. The entire group was led in a spirited Samoan hand-clapping activity by a powerful young man from Papua New Guinea.

In connection,
Steven Botkin

April 03, 2009
Day 5: Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys

Friday, April 03, 2009
by Steven Botkin

The last few days have moved very quickly, and a stomach bug has given me an extra challenge.

I have had many exciting conversations about how MRI's work could be useful in a variety of different settings. And I know that this will lead to a number of very interesting projects over the next few years.

This Symposium marks two tremendous accomplishments in the movement for engaging men and boys in gender equality. First, this issue is now being explicitly included in institutions all around the world, of all sizes (from the U.N. to community-based NGOs) and with many different program areas (violence prevention, women's rights, HIV/AIDS, family health, fatherhood, humanitarian aid, disarmament and demobilization, youth development, etc.). Scaling up has been a major theme of the Symposium, and this institutionalization means significantly more access to vehicles of influence and power. It also brings the political, cultural and spiritual challenges of professionalization and globalization. The strong emphasis on personal relationship-building and yesterday's regional networking sessions have been important humanizing factors.

Another significant accomplishment reflected in this Symposium is that we are now a multi-generational movement. The old timers (among whom I include myself) have passed the baton to a new wave of leadership, representing more global perspectives, who are taking this work to places we had hardly dared to envision. And now, yet another generation of younger men and women from even more diverse communities around the world are cutting their teeth on the joys and challenges of this work and adapting it to their own time and places. In this multi-generational context a culture is being created and we come to know ourselves as a community with a legacy that will be carried and evolved into the future.

In connection,

Posted by Daniel at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2008

Conflict near border of Rwanda and Congo

Our recent trip to Rwanda took us to a remote region on the border with the Congo. We conducted our three day training with men and women coffee farmers. The training was co-organized with the Rwanda Men's Resource Centre (which we have helped to get started), and was hosted by their coffee cooperative, and partially sponsored by Dean's Beans coffee company (from western Massachusetts). The training was tremendously successful in inspiring and mobilizing this group of community leaders.

To our horror, this region has now erupted into fighting as rebel troops from within the Congo moved close to the border with Rwanda. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled their homes and are without food, water or shelter. Hopefully, UN intervention and negotiations will finally help to resolve some of the complex and deeply entrenched issues in this region.

We hold our friends and colleagues in our hearts as, once again, they live through the traumas of war.

Read about the conflict and UN aid efforts on Google News and the BBC.

Posted by Daniel at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2008

A Crisis of Gender Violence

Video: Stephen Lewis | A Crisis of Gender Violence
via Tides

07.21.2008 | 21:46 minutes

Synopsis:A forceful and moving indictment of violence against women. Former U.N. Ambassador Stephen Lewis delivers a rallying cry to stop the systemic use of rape and abuse against girls and women across the globe.

Bio: Stephen Lewis is a U.S. based Co-Director of AIDS-Free World, an advocacy organization that works to promote more urgent and more effective responses to HIV/AIDS. Amongst several senior UN roles that spanned more than two decades, Lewis has served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, and Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations. He holds 28 honorary degrees from Canadian universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest honor for lifetime achievement. In 2007, the Kingdom of Lesotho invested Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe, the country's highest honor. Lewis is currently a Professor in Global Health at McMaster University, serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, and chairs the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Canada.

Posted by Daniel at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2008

CARE Activitists Challenge GBV in Congo

MRI recently received an update about some important work that CARE International is doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.

This news comes via Khushbu Srivastava, the director of CARE's Great Lakes Advocacy Group (GLAG). GLAG, comprised of CARE Country Offices in Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, seeks to address the root causes of violence against women in the Great Lakes region by increasing the capacity of grassroots communities to advocate against SGBV on the local, national and regional levels.

The following thread contains a report from GLAG's DRC coordinator, Raissa, and was forwarded to MRI by Khushbu Srivastava.


Dear All,

This note (english translation below) is from Raissa, our dynamic GLAG focal point in DRC. Yesterday, she organized the first of a series of advocacy talks between 19 grassroots GLAG activists and provincial- level ministers and UNFPA officials in Maniema, North Kivu and South Kivu. Her letter, and the work of activists, speaks of how positive change is possible through the commitment and courage of a few.
Warm congratulations and best of luck to our DRC activists, Raissa, Nasibu and our other staff.

- Khushbu


[English version]

Hello to everyone,

I am very happy to inform you that things are beginning to move for the DRC activists. We began the legal training for victims of sexual violence, as the activists had hoped and wished for.

Three major themes were developed: the judicial instruments at the national and international level on sexual violence, the action plan of activists for the second phase and the Scope of Work that the activists will deliver to the administrative and political authorities...

Today, we developed the first theme, which had two parts:
1. The national and international laws on sexual violence
2. The policies in place regarding sexual violence: this part was developed by Madame the Provincial Minister of Health, Gender and Advocacy. In brief, she informed the activists of the decision of the governor which consisted of transferring those guilty of sexual crimes to Goma, while waiting for the construction of prisons in Maniema. She also spoke of her sectoral plan on sexual violence for this year, defended and supported by the counsel of ministries, in which UNFPA is responsible for the medical treatment of victims and the High Commission of UN has the financial responsibility for covering costs associated with the judicial process. For concluding, she called on the activists to denounce the cases of sexual violence in their village such that the local authorities can take the measures necessary without delay.

After her presentation, the activists spoke to inform Madame the Minister of the situation of victims of sexual violence in Maniema. It was a very moving movement for the activists and for the Minister to be before those who had lived a very difficult situation - they could not hold back their tears. The activists asked questions without fear and without reservation. For them and for the minister, it was the first occasion that they had been able to directly discuss together their problems without an intermediary.

Among the questions asked, one pertained to the protection of activists, the fear activists had regarding the decision of the Governor to transfer criminals of violence to Goma (they felt it was another manner of allowing them to escape). Another question pertained to the lack of medical care.

The Minister promised to write to the authorities of Maniema and other authorities ordering them to respect and make others respect the work of these activists. She asked the activists to collaborate with the minister to fight against the outbreaks of sexual violence in Maniema (she gave her contact number to all the activists and promised to open the door for them at all moments.)

In brief, we can say that the dream of GLAG DRC activists has begun. This opportunity with the Minister of Health, Gender and Advocacy was for the activists the beginning of their advocacy. Today, they demanded their protection and collaboration (the engagement and support of the Minister), who promised to support and defend activists' Scope of Work before the Council of Ministers and the Provincial Ministry.

This positive beginning is for the activists a strategy for bringing their advocacy to the national level via the channel of provincial Ministry and government.

Tomorrow, the activists will reflect on their plan of action for the second phase of GLAG after meeting the Project Coordinator of the Conjoint against Sexual Violence, led by UNFPA. In that which concerns this meeting, they will be advocating that victims of violence in the credit and savings groups of Wakinamama be entitled to medical care. I will share the figures with you next time, but the groups have currently registered 240 cases of violence, of which the majority have not received appropriate medical care.

Well, I will leave you to finish your work.

Thank you,
- Raissa


Posted by Daniel at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2008

Rwanda: 2,700 Rape Cases Reported Last Year

By Florence Mutesi
The New Times - Rwanda's First Daily

Sent by Fidele Rutayisire, Chairman, Rwanda Men's Resource Centre (RWAMREC)

CRIME - Rape and defilement are among the highest crimes in Rwanda, with a reported 2,703 cases in 2007, CID Director, Chief Superintendent Costa Habyara has said.

"The crime might seem to be on the increase, but actually it is because people have broken the stigma and now many report the cases to police," Habyara said during a press conference at Police Headquarters in Kacyiru on Tuesday.

The meeting held on Tuesday to address journalists on achievements and challenges of the National Police in 2007 was attended by Robert Niyonshuti, head of traffic police, Felix Namuhoranye, Chief Superintendent and inspector of inspection, Pierre Tebuka, Inspector of police and the Police Spokesman, Marcel Willy Higiro.

Habyara said that sensitization against the crime made people bold and able to report the cases. Many were victims of rape but they used to keep quite because it was like a disgrace to fall a victim, he said.

He said there was hope that the crime would continue to reduce, saying that the number in 2006 was higher, at 2746.

Ninety percent of the sexual crimes were defilement cases, while ten percent was rape. Habyara said that the reports include victims of early marriages. Some of the victims of underage marriages were forced into it while others did so willingly.

"Early marriages used to be normal for families and victims, so it is not all that easy to fight it. At times girls are not willing to leave their men," he said.

Felix Namuhoranye said that Inspection service of police would improve services and make every police person answerable. The service handles and settles complaints brought against the police.

"It is a mechanism to ensure professional ethics," Namuhoranye said.

He said that it makes certain that neither the police nor the population is treated unfairly. He added that in their strategic plans, they hope to work more with the population because they believe they are not perfect. He said they would continue with sensitization and their key stakeholder in this is the media.

Read more

Posted by Daniel at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2008

Call to Men: Speak Out Against GBV in Kenya

Fidel Rutayisire of the Rwanda Men's Resource Centre in Kigali, has created and circulated a petition to show that men around the world are ready to publicly denounce the ongoing gender-based violence in Kenya.

His petition as we received it follows. To sign on and show your support, send an e-mail with your name, title (if applicable),and country, and send it to Fidel at

Global Call to action for Men and Male leaders!

Speak out Against Gender Based Violence In Kenya!
Add your voice - sign and share this pledge!

Men's Pledge Against Gender Based Violence

Today, Kenya is experiencing an unprecedented wave of sexual violence that has been directed at thousands of Kenyan women, girls and a number of men and boys.

As men, we recognize that violence against women and the girl child affects men as well as women, those we care for, the family, you & me, the community and the nation.

We recognize that men and male leaders have an important role to play in stopping Gender-based violence, and acting as Role Models for other men.

Today, we are joining our voices to denounced gender-based violence in Kenya and to publicly commit ourselves to working in active solidarity with women and NGOs working to end ongoing gender-based violence in the conflict that has gripped Kenya.

As men, we call upon other men and male leaders to publicly speak out , and to join in this global call to protect Kenyan women and children, to demand that the government act to protect citizens against sexual assaults, and to stop sexual attacks that are linked to police and armed militias.

As men, we affirm that Positive Masculinity is about you and me and what we do to bring about Positive Change in Humanity.

By signing this pledge form you are committing yourself to be a role model for positive masculinity and to promote gender equality and equity beginning with your environment; family, work place and community.

Be Part of the Solution!

This petition pledge action will be globally circulated and sent to Kenyan authorities and NGOs working on Gender-Based Violence. After adding your name, Please send it back to

Yes, I am adding my name to the Global Pledge of Men Against Gender-Based Violence in Kenya:


1) Fidel RUTAYISIRE, Chairman and Founder of Rwanda Men`s Resource Centre, Rwanda

2) Brian Finch, Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC), Canada



5) SAFARI Emmanuel, Executive Secretary, CLADHO-RWANDA


7) BUTERA Jean Claude, Student, ULK

8) NDASHIMYE GEoffrey, Director of Planning, KHI Rwanda

Posted by Daniel at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2007

Sonke Gender Justice Network releases report on working with men and boys for U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.

The Sonke Gender Justice Network launches the South Africa Country Report entitled "Working with men and boys to achieve gender equality" for the 2007 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Read the executive summary or download the full report at:

At the 48th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2004, the South Africa government and the governments of other participating countries made formal commitments to implementing a range of recommendations aimed at “involving men and boys in achieving gender equality”. To document progress made since 2004, the Sonke Gender Justice Network was commissioned by the Office on the Status of Women within the Presidency to develop the official country report on involving men and boys in achieving gender equality. The country report offers the most comprehensive overview to date of work being done by government and civil society to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality. It identifies a number of key themes and issues a series of frank recommendations to accelerate work with men and to deepen its impact.

Key themes: The report indicates that "growing numbers of men are taking a stand against gender based violence" and argues that "there is visible support for work with men to achieve gender equality amongst some senior government officials" with evidence of "widespread adoption of work with men in many government departments". The report also makes the case, though, that "men's violence against women remains unacceptably high" and notes that critics contend that low conviction rates for rape and domestic violence mean that "government inadvertedly sends a message to perpetrators that, in all likelihood, they can commit violence against women with relative impunity". The report states that "current efforts rely too heavily on workshops and community outreach" without sufficient attention to "other important change strategies such as advocacy for policy change or rights based activism". The report also draws attention to "problems related to capacity, a lack of clarity of purpose, poor coordination and insufficient long term commitment".

Key recommendations: The report calls for all sectors in South Africa to "intensify their efforts to end men's violence against women" and argues that important first steps in achieving this will include developing "a clear set of principles to guide work with men", expanding "existing policy frameworks to strengthen coordination and planning", "building the capacity of the public sector to engage men and boys in achieving gender equality". The report calls explicitly for a stronger focus on "rights based advocacy and community mobilisation to demand an end to men's violence against women". The report also calls for a stronger focus on reaching men and boys in rural areas and for more interventions focused on educating boys and young adult men, specifically arguing for efforts that "build youth capacity to assert leadership on increasing gender equality". The report also draws attention specifically to the relationship between men's behaviour and the spread of HIV/AIDS and argues that government and civil society should launch a "men and HIV services campaign to increase men's use of HIV services". The report also urges civil society organisations and community members to support and hold government accountable by participating in structures such as community policing fora and local AIDS councils, amongst others.

The report can be viewed at

For questions or additional information, please contact Bafana Khumalo on +27 82 905 7587 or e-mial For more information on the Sonke Gender Justice Network, please visit our website at

Posted by Daniel at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

The Afghan Women's Empowerment Act of 2006

Help Afghan women and girls: The Feminist Majority Foundation has a place to send emails to your senators and representatives, asking them to co-sponsor The Afghan Women's Empowerment Act of 2006. This act:

will authorize $30 million a year for three years for women-led nonprofits that are providing education, adult literacy and vocational training, and health care for Afghan women and girls. Additionally, the Act authorizes $5 million a year for three years for the Ministry of Women's Affairs and $10 million a year for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Funding for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women's Affairs will assist these organizations in promoting and protecting women's rights and human rights at this extremely critical time.

Sign here

Posted by Russell at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2006

Women In Kuwait Run For Parliment

After a 44 year ban, women were given the right to vote last May. Now there are five candidates running for Kuwaiti parliment seats - a first for this country. Excellent news...

via BBC - Electoral First for Kuwaiti Women

Posted by Russell at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2006

War on Women

The first two paragraphs of this piece speak for themselves:

A recent UNIFEM (the U.N. women's fund) report on the progress of the world's women says that ``violence against women during conflict has reached epidemic proportions, yet little is being done to prevent this violence or to support and protect women. Women's bodies have become a battleground over which opposing forces struggle.''

Today, 80 percent of the civilian casualties of war are women; 80 percent of the world's refugees are women and children. And while we may long for the luxury of believing that the systematic rapes in Bosnia and Rwanda were inhuman events, outside the range of everyday experience, such crimes growing in numbers in countries such as Cambodia, Uganda, the Congo, Colombia and Sudan.

Read more:

via Common Dreams - Every War is a War on Women

Posted by Russell at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2006

Women's Rights in the Middle East

Over at Alas, A Blog, is a very good synopsis of a discussion about women's rights in the Middle East, as well as some good additional thoughts.

Women's Rights in the Middle East

Posted by Russell at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2006

World Cup, Prostitution in Germany - An On-line Petition

There is an on-line petition to protest the importation of women to "sexually service" football fans at the World Cup this year. The petition is sponsored by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.



From June 9 - July 9, 2006, 12 German cities will host the World Cup Games. Approximately 3 million football fans – mostly men – will attend. It is estimated that 40,000 women will be "imported" from Central and Eastern Europe into Germany to "sexually service" the men.

Germany legalized pimping and the sex industry in 2002. However, it is predicted that the legal red light districts will be too small for the thousands of sport/sex tourists in attendance. In preparation for this influx, the German sex industry has erected a massive prostitution complex for the "booming business" expected during the games.

"Football and sex belong together," claimed the lawyer of the newly opened 3,000 meter mega brothel in Berlin, built next to the main World Cup venue to accommodate 650 male clients. Wooden "sex huts" called "performance boxes" that look like toilets have been built in fenced-in areas the size of a football field, with condoms, showers and parking for the buyers and a special focus on protecting their "anonymity."

Sign the petition

Posted by Russell at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

January 13, 2006

Women's Rights, African Customs

In some African Countries, women's rights laws have been passed. But at the same time, they often go unenforced. The issue of ending such culturally-embedded practices as virginity-testing and genital mutilation is the focus of the piece below.

via New York Times - Women's Rights Laws and African Customs Clash

Posted by Russell at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005

Oppression of Iraqi Women

A story that isn't being told too publicly about the situation in Iraq is that while Democracy is "flowering" in Iraq, the oppresion of women is increasing - a brutal, ugly oppression.

Article: via openDemocracy - Iraq's War on Women

Posted by Russell at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

China Dealing With "Boy Glut"

Is it China's one-child policy? Or is it an issue deeper than that because it is a problem in other Asian nations? Either way, a country that has favored sons over daughters is now preparing to deal with the consequences.

Article: New York Times (via Scholastic News): China Starts To Give Girls Their Due.

Posted by Russell at 07:01 AM | Comments (0)

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