Over 1,200 activists from 94 countries gathered in Delhi from 10-13th November to take part in the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium, a dialogue on engaging men and boys for gender justice. Organized by the MenEngage Alliance (an alliance of over 400 UN members and NGOs, including CARE), the Symposium follows the one held in Rio de Janiero, with the theme of “going to scale.”
The four-day symposium convened academics, activists, policy makers, and development practitioners, and featured panels, posters, and skill-building sessions on themes from engaging men as caregivers; how to measure social change; working with religious leaders and institutions; and changing masculinities and relationships in response to social, economic, and environmental transformations.
There were over 30 CARE representatives from India, Nepal, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Austria, Sri Lanka, the Balkans, Tanzania, and CARE led or participated in 10 different panels or presentations over the course of the four days. Pathways participants included Mamadou Coulibaly and Bintou Diakite, from Mali; Maureen Kwilasa, from Tanzania, Emily Hillenbrand from USA, and Rekha Panigrahi, Amrut Prusty, and Tapas Das, from India.
On the Poverty and Work track, Pathways members Maureen Kwilasa, Mamadou Coulibaly, and Rekha Panigrahi joined CARE Uganda and CARE Rwanda to discuss how CARE is “Engaging men for women’s economic empowerment.” In a separate panel, Emily Hillenbrand presented the overall Pathways program and some lessons learned from engaging men in a session, “Leveraging men’s engagement in social norm transformation in agriculture.” The CARE sessions on these themes highlighted some of the factors favoring men’s supportive engagement—such as using the livelihoods entry-point to discuss the social norm transformation—as well as some of the risks and challenges, including the need for ongoing support to male role models and the potential for economic ‘takeover’ of women’s agricultural enterprises.
The symposium called for continuing dialogue between feminists and men-engage activists, and underlined the importance of interacting with men not only as instruments for women’s empowerment but as gendered agents who are also limited and constrained by rigid gender norms and expectations and gendered socioeconomic trends. A key outcome of the symposium was the “Delhi Declaration and Call to Action,” a shared commitment to upholding boys’ and men’s engagement as key efforts to ensuring gender equality and gender justice for all.