Great work is currently done around the world to make sure that the lives of girls and women are safe and prosperous. In the process, we should not leave out, boys and men, the other half of humanity because their participation will ensure the sustainability of our works.

All societies are filled with gender stereotypes; children regularly learn to adopt gender roles. These gender stereotypes and gender roles would vary depending of different factors such as the ethnicity, the cultural heritage, the financial status, the structure of the family. Socialization within the family defined gender stereotypes as the widely held beliefs about characteristics thought appropriate for males and females. Gender roles refer to the reflection of gender stereotypes in everyday behavior.

Socialization within the family stated that some personality traits that are stereotypically regarded as masculine and feminine. Stereotypical masculine traits include being active, aggressive, ambitious,  independent, competitive, dominant, self-confident or feeling superior. Stereotypical feminine traits include being considerate, emotional, gentle, home-oriented, kind, passive, to like children, being devoted to others. 

"Both men and women are guilty of objectifying themselves and each other," Courtney Han said on social pressures faced by Duke students." By including both sides of the gender divide in the dialogue, we as a campus can move further away from group-think and irresponsible feminism to refocus on the abilities, talents and passions we brought as freshmen to Duke. We owe that much to ourselves, and to each other" Including men in the empowerment process of tomorrow's women will ensure the sustainability of our efforts. It is important that we include men for several reasons.

First, the gender roles and gender stereotypes need to be acknowledged whenever we communicate to men. If a tradition or a local custom is not life-threatening to girls or women, outsiders should show respect.

On the African continent, societies are often patriarchal. As a result, conversations on issues  faced by girls and women as well the right strategies needed to overcome them must include men. Including boys and men will allow them to understand that empowering girls and women has nothing to do with taking away their manhood or imposing them a foreign culture.

The pessimistic ones need to be convinced that each African girl or young woman with a high school diploma or an university's degree is an excellent investment for her family. An African educated woman is an invaluable asset whenever she becomes a wife or a mother. And yes, an African educated women will put her family first.

Men in Africa need to understand that by engaging themselves in women's rights such as keeping their homes, neighborhoods and cities free from sexual predators, they make sure that another man's mother, daughter, sister, relative, friend, girlfriend, or wife is also safe. African women need their African men to stand by their side. 

Anna da Costa has invited the international community to mobilize young men to end violence against women in India. In a country where almost 40 percent of women will experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence at the hands of men, this may seem a counterintuitive notion, da Costa said. Some organizations such as the Equal Community Foundation (ECF) are working with men to combat gender violence and achieve parity between the sexes. An ECF graduate explained that the organization teaches them about women, and help them understand how to interact with girls as friends, something he can't talk to his parents about but he really appreciates.

On the African continent and elsewhere, men have their share of social struggles. These social struggles often rooted in the gender stereotypes and the gender roles they learnt from childhood. For some, they are victims of the expectations established within their societies. 

In an article published on Time, Christina Hoff Sommers said that masculinity is more than a mask. She has suggested that we should appreciate the difference between healthy and pathological masculinity, acknowledge the virtue of male reserve, make clear that boys are psychologically sound and resilient, include specific ideas on how to help boys with depression or thoughts of suicide.

Daddy Doyin, father of two and blogger, sparked an internet storm after posting a picture of himself taking care of his daughters on Twitter and Facebook. He wrote on his blog that he took a paternity leave from his corporate job to bond with his 3-month old daughter.

"I have a dream that insecure dads will spend less time hating on good dads and more time on getting their own [stuff] together. I'd say 95% of the dads who follow me are actively involved in their kids' lives and view parenting as a 50/50 endeavor with their wives/girlfriends," Daddy Doyin said." They send me "Thank You" emails, they'll say it's refreshing to see a guy (me) who embraces fatherhood as much as they do, and they'll refer other good dads to my blog because they know I'll celebrate them."

In his TEDx speech, Jackson Katz said that social issues such as sexual violence are men's issues. Definitely, we should encourage men to join conversations and to work for issues that affect their mothers, their sisters, their daughters, their friends, their girlfriends, or the wives. Putting the "men" in "women's" issues is essential, if we want to make a lasting difference for girls and women on the African continent and elsewhere.  

7Encouragement

Thanks for the great writing on the importance of men in the empowerment of women and girls. I couldn't agree more. It has to start early by helping boys and young men to value their sisters, mothers, aunts, and female friends as powerful influencers in society, don't you think?

Exactly, Sister Etochen! I think that if we get them started early, we let them know the needs of their relatives and friends are as important as theirs, they will be best prepared  to pay attention to the pain and to stop discriminatory practices within their culture in the name of tradition. I think all cultures are concerned at some level. If anything, providing them a critical mind that girls are not always treated fairly because of their gender is also a good start because whenever something concerns women in society, the social mindset is that the problem doesn't matter as much. Thank you for taking the time to read my piece.

Peace & Joy / Paix & Joie

Your WP Sister Jessica

Founder/Fondatrice, Women & Africa International

Official Website: http://www.womenandafrica.org/

 

This is such a beautifully written piece! I love how you wrote on a topic that is not mentioned much in regards to the media when it comes to gender equality. I especially love the line "Putting the 'men' in 'women's' issues is essential". Together, we can increasingly encourage more males to join the conversations and support women on their journeys and the road to recovery. With more men stepping up as role models, hopefully more young boys will join in, as well, and be confident advocates in working towards eradicating the social issues that exist among our countries.

Thank you very much, Helen for taking the time to read my article! I am glad we share the same viewpoint. I strongly believe there's a need for a shift in terms of educating boys and men to have a genuine interest for the well-being for girls and women. My understanding is that many may want changes to take place but we keep them away. Clueless, they remain bystanders. 

Peace & Joy / Paix & Joie

Your WP Sister Jessica

Founder/Fondatrice, Women & Africa International

Official Website: http://www.womenandafrica.org/

 

You have hit the nail right on spot Jessica! I agree with every point of yours. Especially the part of focusing on our young men to learn to respect and treat women right. But the focus isn't necessarily the boys, who brings up these boys? Who encourages the male specie to sow wild oats but preach chastity to the girl child? Who shames a woman who gets raped blaming her it's because of what she wore she got raped? Who ostracises a woman who stand up for herself against an irresponsible man who batters her day in day out? Women! Unfortunately most of the time Its women!! We have to be true to ourselves about enablers of gender inequality. the harm most of the time starts from how mothers raise the children.  The change sincerely lies in our hands.

Dear Tupem,

You're 100% right and you got my point. We, women, have to make sure we first change our 'own' way of seeing other women. This is why I created my organization 'Women & Africa International' in the hope of fostering sisterhood. Men who were once boys generally have a good viewpoint of women such as their mothers and sisters. Unfortunately, we (women) sometimes  fail to call out our brothers, fathers and male friends when they do wrong. That's why some men get away with some stuff. We need to get them right at an early age as we're doing for girls. Thank you for your comment.

Peace & Joy / Paix & Joie

Your WP Sister Jessica

Founder/Fondatrice, Women & Africa International

Official Website: http://www.womenandafrica.org/