By: Liza Asavela Mfana
Many men across the world have raised their concerns surrounding women empowerment and emancipation movements and organizations. Citing that the discourse of gender equality seems to identify men as the primary enemy, many of us tend to miss the point altogether. It has become prevalent in spaces of discourse, dialogue and sociopolitical development that the views of men have not been much appreciated by those advancing the pro-women agenda. Primary to this, has been the view that the average opinions of men as it relates to gender equality and women empowerment are not valuable to the struggle because they do not seek to make a positive contribution.
This article has therefore been developed to enhance our contribution, as men, towards women empowerment and gender equality. It is very important that we begin to change our contribution to the discourse from that of self-defense to that of positive development. This shift will be very important in ensuring that we develop a reimagined culture of inter-gender relations across the globe. We need to ensure that our contributions are no longer in defense of “not all men being trash” or “people who rape are not men”, and more towards “how can we become better as men?” and “how do we contribute positively to the society?” This shift not only in our contribution to the discourse, but to our fundamental thinking patterns, is the greatest part we can play in advancing women empowerment.
Further to this is the necessity for men to do something that is very foreign to our nature, which is to play a supporting role. We have to internalize the reality that in as much as the system is rigged against them, women are more than capable of attaining their own empowerment and emancipation. It is necessary that we do not allow ourselves to continue being consumed by the unscientific narrative that women need us to empower them. Ours is not to be at the forefront of empowerment issues, but to use the few benefits which patriarchy grants us as men, to amplify the voices and struggles of women across the world. We have a responsibility to ensure that we take the vision of women and carry it forward, under their directive and through their command.
It is finally critical that we, as men, play the role of keeping each other in line. Within this context, we must understand that women do not have a responsibility to illuminate us surrounding the realities of their marginalization. We have a responsibility to ensure that we initiate discourse amongst each other, which seeks to drive our process of unlearning and relearning. We must acknowledge that we are beneficiaries of the patriarchal system and use this to undo the injustice. We must disrupt the status quo through our personal, professional and political discussions. We must ensure that we call out behavior from our peers and family members – whether in the form of actions, jokes, statements, etc. We must guard against harboring people who have regressive and violent views against women and women empowerment.
It therefore becomes clear that in the pursuit of women empowerment and emancipation, men have a role to play. It is no longer enough to create uproar from a distance. It is no longer enough to post hashtags and long posts on social media in support of women empowerment. We are at a stage in the development of our history, as a society, where the men in the society need to do better. We have what we need to build a better society, a society of men who value women. A better world with better men.