MenEngage Global Symposium 2014 was held for four days in November. The overall theme of the event was “Men and Boys for Gender Justice” and it was arranged around seven key topics on which presentations and discussions were based. ECF attended with a strong eight person team and the days were filled with interaction and interesting sharing among us and the 1000 participants. ECF contributed to the event by:
- Having an interactive booth that explained what we do and how we do it
- Chairing a panel on mapping Indian practitioners working with men
- Participating in a poster exhibition
- Holding a satellite session on Project Raise
Will Muir, the co-founder and director of Equal Community Foundation says: “The outcome of this event has been fantastic for us. We have gained and shared a lot of knowledge among our peers. It is also very satisfactory that we have been invited to conduct more training for organizations across India who want to participate in ‘Project Raise’. This confirms that we have solid concept in our Action for Equality Programmes”. ECF’s mission to ‘ensure that every man in India has the opportunity to study and practice gender equitable behavior to end violence and discrimination against women’ is as strong and in demand as ever before. The team who attended the event got the evidence for this.
Sunil Chachar, one of ECF’s nine mentors says: “Just seeing the number of global organizations involved in this approach of working with and engaging men to end gender based violence, has been an eye opener for me. It is encouraging to see that the importance of this required change is recognized globally and not just in India where the roots of patriarchal social structures are so dominant. Being a participant at this event has been a huge opportunity and exposure for me to all the great work that is being done within this field”.
All the ECF participants felt that the Symposium was a real marketplace for ideas, interactions and an open box of best practices. Danit Shaham, Programme Director at ECF says: “It was a great opportunity to reflect about theoretical and practical ideas on how to encourage and sustain gender equality culture. With the “Action for Equality” programme – we work with 20 communities in Pune, and there is a great opportunity to test lots of those ideas on the community level”.
The ECF booth at the Symposium was among the most visited with more than 600 people stopping by during the four days. The booth consisted of: information about ECF’s work and concept, an interactive game and a call to participants to take part in a competition. This mix made many people stay longer at the booth and the ECF team had many interesting conversations with the visitors. Vijay Vibhad and Pravin Katke, both ECF mentors say: “The interactive booth was a unique opportunity for us to share what we do and how we do what we do. Getting participants at the Symposium to understand our model of ENGAGE-ENROL-RETAIN-FACILITATE-SUSTAIN-LEAD was interesting, thought-provoking and fun”.
ECF also participated in the poster-exhibition, showcasing a detailed research that is conducted in our communities in Pune. The findings point to definitive changes and have been quantified by the respondents in the communities. The poster also showed the hopes and expectations that are expressed by the young men and boys who enroll for ECF’s Action for Equality programmes. Tukaram Dhore, an ECF mentor who showcased the poster in the exhibition says: “The jury was very intrigued by the ECF poster and the model we showcased, appreciating the clarity and detail that was included”.
Five years into our unique journey of working with men and boys – Equal Community Foundation has not only built a solid programme framework – but we have taken the next step in building evidence to support the effectiveness of our approach. We are very excited to take ECF into the next phase i.e. scaling up our concept in partnership with other organisations.
Last few years, we have been looking inwards. Since last year we have started to look outwards and focus on sharing our lessons learnt and learning from other models. In that respect, the symposium was a very good platform for us.