Men, often become violent, aggressive, and uncaring due to patriarchal modes of socialization that moulds their psyche. Images of masculinity in society are linked to being strong and violent, and to notions that men with ‘power’ are ‘real men’. The situation necessitates efforts that address how men can analyse perceptions of masculinity and create appropriate alternatives.
There is a woeful dearth of safe platforms to talk about problems that give rise to violent behaviour, including those relating to issues of gender and sexuality. There is also an equal need for positive role models among men, who assert a gender-sensitive society and can engage more young men and boys in the discourse. Thus, to address the root cause of the problem, focused efforts promoting men’s involvement (simultaneously with women’s empowerment) are required at various levels. Men have to be involved not as supporters (or do-gooders) but as ‘partners’ and ‘stakeholders.’ And they would be seriously involved only if they are convinced that the problem affects them equally, that it is a problem of all the genders.
Men’s domination over women has come at a price, of not having the freedom to laugh and cry, to befriend one’s children and spouse, to be vulnerable, to share rather than sit lonely in one’s thrown. Men need to appreciate that by stopping or preventing any form of gender-based violence against women, apart from enabling empowerment of women and promoting a gender-just society, it’s their lives which will be more humane, their partnership with women will improve their quality of life. When we take this perspective to the issue of violence against women, we have seen real change happen on the ground. All our programs are designed around this philosophy.
Men Against Violence and Abuse - MAVA has pioneered efforts in India to engage Boys and Men to address issues of gender inequality and discrimination by interrogating the existing dominant model of Masculinity, and help stop prevent gender-based violence against women. Established in 1993, MAVA is working towards building a movement that explores the role of men as ‘partners’ and ‘stakeholders’ – addressing gender issues through cultural advocacy, direct intervention and youth education initiatives.
For the past 26 years, MAVA has been engaging and mentoring thousands of young men in schools, colleges and communities in healthy conversations around sexual health and gender-sensitive behavior through leadership–driven training and using out-of-the box methods including interactive workshops, wall-newspapers, story-telling, folk songs, street-theatre, travelling film festivals, youth blogs and other social media.
We believe that men are not genetically wired to be dominating and aggressive, but are socially conditioned to be so. Our work, like that of several emerging men’s groups all over the world, shows that men are capable of becoming sensitive human beings and can help prevent and stop gender-based discrimination and violence against women.
Through strategic collaborations with local colleges, universities, women’s groups, grassroots community-based organizations and individual health activists, our 700 plus youth mentors working in nine districts of Maharashtra have reached out to over 3,00,000 young men and adolescent boys in the last 12 years. These young people are spreading the message of respecting women and treating them with dignity.
Our contribution to the understanding of gender and masculinities in India is acknowledged at national/international conferences and workshops. With the help like-minded groups and individuals, we are in the process of nurturing the nascent movement on men and masculinities taking shape in Maharashtra and several other states of India.