LEBANON - ENGAGING MEN IN ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
“Be a Man. Real Men Take a Stand Against Violence”-
Men Saying No to Violence Against Women Campaign, Lebanon
The message of Engaging Men in ending Violence Against Women (VAW) has to be a positive one. Until now in initiatives for women’s human rights in the Middle East, men are only depicted as the perpetrators of Domestic Violence (DV). Although this may be the closest picture to the reality of DV in the Middle East, relaying this message has not only become a cliché, but can actually increase male resistance and defensiveness to the issue. Furthermore, messages where men are only perpetrators of DV run the very dangerous risk of creating such a close association between men and DV, that the terms become synonymous with one another.
The result, sadly, is that in our attempt to raise awareness on a pivotal human rights issue in our region, we have actually allowed the core message to become lost. We, as women’s human rights activists, are against the violence and abuse that create and maintain gender inequalities in our region. We are against a system that socializes boys and girls to become adults that do not question or combat these injustices. We are against the unfair power relations between the genders in our patriarchal societies. We are NOT against men. Our ideal goal, in fact, is a society where men and women live proudly with one another. A society where all citizens have equal rights, opportunities, and challenges that are not discriminate based on gender.
ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality, in partnership with Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights and the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs and in collaboration with the Forum for Development Culture & Dialogue, launched a nationwide media campaign entitled “Be a Man. Real Men Take a Stand Against Violence”. This media campaign begins the revolutionary journey towards using positive psychology to foster male allies in the world of women’s human rights. This campaign does not focus on blaming the males in our society who are the perpetrators of DV. Rather, this campaign praises the men in our society who are against the gender biases and who are active in the fight to end VAW. Through the produced TV Spot, Unipole, Newspapers’ Ads, Thousands of SMS, Flyers and posters and number of awareness raising activities, this campaign supports men who, like their female counterparts, refuse to remain silent about the issue of VAW and gender inequalities in our countries.
This campaign utilizes what has come to be known in the field of study of masculinities and gender as ‘positive masculinity’. We envision this to be the first of many future initiatives in which men will be inspired by proactive examples of the courageous influence men can have in ending VAW. With this respect, belief, optimism, and hope we plan on cultivating a culture of men who believe in Gender Equality, and will form a partnership with women in our society to work side by side to end VAW in the Middle East.
Founder & Director
ABAAD-Resource Center for Gender Equality
Furn Chebbak, Sector 5, 51 Bustani Street, Najjar Bldg., Ground Floor
P.O.Box: 50-048 Beirut-Lebanon
Mob (personal): +961 (3) 663052
Mob (office): +961 (70) 28 38 20
Follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/abaadmena
11 October 2011
Ghida Anani and Anthony Keedi
“Ending violence against women and having a society that truly espouses the principles of gender equality can only be done when men and women work together, side by side, as partners in achieving that goal.”
In an ever changing world, new Dimensions are needed in the fight to end violence against women and create a gender equal society. ABAAD (Dimensions) Resource Center for Gender Equality, a recently established Lebanese non-profit, non-politically affiliated and non-religious civil society organization, is working toward gender equality as an essential condition for sustainable social and economic development in the Middle East.
ABAAD envisions a world where women and men are equal partners in all aspects of their lives; a world where women are empowered to participate fully in everything that affects their lives and communities, and where men support and endorse women’s inclusion in these matters. ABAAD believes in working towards a society where all are free from violence and discrimination and where women and men live equally with freedom, dignity, and peace.
ABAAD has had the good fortune of having trustworthy and dedicated support from international NGOs working in the region. Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights and International Medical Corps (IMC) and many others are collaborating with ABAAD in different ways on initiatives working towards ending violence against women and promoting gender equality in the region.
One of the many unique aspects of ABAAD’s beliefs, reflected in its organizational structure and all its work, is the emphasis on working with both men and women to end violence against women. Not only does ABAAD have male and female board members and staff, but many of the present and upcoming activities and initiatives engage men and boys in ending violence against women. This includes establishing standardized tools and guidelines for work with men, creating support groups for men, and promoting men’s role in eliminating violence through creative audio-visual materials – created by men themselves. A nationwide campaign driven by men, for men, entitled “With all my force… against violence,” has just started in Lebanon.
This media campaign begins the revolutionary journey towards fostering male allies in the world of women’s human rights. This campaign does not focus on accusing the males in our society who are the perpetrators of domestic violence. Rather, this campaign praises the men in our society who are against the violence and who are active in the fight to end violence against women. This campaign supports men who, like their female counterparts, refuse to remain silent about the issue of violence against women and gender inequalities in our countries. Just as in life, we have many positive role models and examples of people, female and male, who display respect for the human condition and compassion for those in society facing exploitation and oppression. ABAAD believes that this must be reflected in our work as NGOs and civil society organizations if we hope to make any impact and change in the future of people in our communities.
The positive focus on the partnership of women and men is also important for negating cultural or sub-cultural differences in spreading ABAAD’s message. Middle Eastern society and culture is different from any other in the world. Even within the Middle Eastern cultures, such as Lebanon, there is a plethora of different backgrounds, religions, upbringings, education, and more. Positivity, optimism, and hope are fundamental ways of transcending any of these differences. Thus, for the message of the work for ending violence against women and promoting the beautiful principals of gender equality, ABAAD feels it necessary to focus on these universal principals or else risk losing a portion of the population that feels unrepresented or negatively targeted by a message of nonviolence.
Ending violence against women and having a society that truly espouses the principles of gender equality can only be done when men and women work together, side by side, as partners in achieving that goal. That is a fundamental belief at ABAAD, and one that we hope to promote through tools, research, activities, trainings, and most importantly, by the actions of the organization itself and the people within the organization. Leading by example in one’s professional and private life is the best way to spread a message. ABAAD hopes to inspire those around them to question a system that has created an over-exaggerated difference between men and women.
Hopefully through the work of ABAAD people throughout the Middle East will realize the many different dimensions that bring us together as a people, rather than simply those that tear us apart: all men and women are human beings above all else. They are partners, colleagues, and family. With so many ties between us, our only option for true happiness and success is to stand together as equals for the greater good of all.
Ghida Anani is the Founder & Director and Anthony Keedi is the Project Coordinator at ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality in Beirut, Lebanon