As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put it “Violence against women and girls will not be eradicated until all of us – men and boys- refuse to tolerate it”. Globally, men are taking a stand. Kenya’s Men for Gender Equality Now (MENGEN), a member of the Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence Against Women global coalition, stands out as an inspiring organization. Since 2001, MENGEN has worked to involve men in the struggle against gender-based violence and gender-inequality. To date, the organization has reached thousands of men and women in 21 constituencies across Kenya, championing equality and rejecting violence against women.
During the 2009 global 16 Days of activism against gender violence campaign, MENGEN spearheaded the Men’s Traveling Conference, recruiting male role models across Kenya to oppose violence and to start MENGEN branches in their communities. MENGEN mobilized men and women to sign commitment forms pledging their allegiance to fight gender-based violence; despite meeting heavy resistance in some towns, several police offices and provincial administrators pledged their support.
Activists march against gender violence in Kigali, Rwanda.
On November 25th, the first day of the 16 Days campaign, Malawi Minister for Gender, Children and Community Development, Hon. Patricia Kaliati, launched the official inauguration of MENGEN in Malawi with a powerful statement, “Real Men are not afraid of women’s empowerment.”
Amnesty International USA could not agree more!
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Gertrude Hambira, Zimbabwe. (c) Amnesty International
Amnesty International spoke to three inspiring women’s rights activists about the challenges they face in their work, the personal risks they endure and their motivation to continue their struggle. Today, on World Human Rights Day, we should take a moment to recognize the work done by Gertrude Hambira from Zimbabwe, Zebo Sharifova from Tajikistan and Aminatou Haidar from Western Sahara, and countless women like them around the world, to defend human rights.
Despite threats and physical abuse women’s human rights defenders strive to improve women’s lives and promote human rights. However, all too often, their work is constrained by limited resources and limited commitment to promoting women’s rights from their governments.
The United Nations is a galvanizing force in setting new international standards and commitments to protect and promote women’s human rights. The UN needs the strength and the capacity to ensure that these commitments are fulfilled. Amnesty is calling on the President of the General Assembly to make the United Nations more effective in realizing women’s rights by creating a strong, UN agency for women. Today, on the final day of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence and World Human Rights Day, take action to increase the UN’s effectiveness in realizing women’s human rights and sign the petition calling for a strong UN agency for women. Take action today in honor of Gertrude, Zebo and Aminatou.