Violence in general can be prevented by changing mindsets in men about masculinity and getting them to become part of the solution.
That is the view of Jens Van Tricht, who is the founder of a Netherlands organisation called Emancipator, which strives to create a world in which everyone can develop fully as a person in freedom, equality and security. He is in Samoa for the initial meeting of the MenEngage Global Alliance.
He said the meeting in Samoa is important and they will have to convince the policy makers, partners and large organisations of the importance of violence prevention in general, but specifically on the role of boys’ and men’s masculinity.
“The world has made some steps through empowering works for women in general equality on violence prevention. We have an expression in Dutch: ‘we are mopping while the tap is still running, and no one is turning off the tap’."
“And so turning it off would mean preventing boys and men to develop highly masculinity – this would solve 90 per cent of the problem,” he said, in an interview with Samoa Observer.
The initial meeting in Samoa is important, added Mr. Tricht, as it is important to show that the issue of masculinity and its link to boys and men is a global problem and not confined to a community.
Mr. Tricht said he is yet to come across a country where men don’t live up to the expectations of masculinity, wherein characteristics such as being tough, aggressive, dominant and strong are accepted and promoted.
“The impact that we have as six organisations – with the limited funding and resources we have – is small while facing this huge challenge. We believe that both men and women will benefit from gender justice."
“I do believe that we are working on the global movement, where men and women and everyone else, work together for a better world. I am also keen on witnessing who plays what role and I want to learn, share, connect, and I also want to build,” he added.
The MenEngage Global Alliance meeting is coordinated by the Centro Rural Joven Vida, a non-profit organization based in Spain. The meeting in Samoa is currently attended by the Youth First in Madagascar, the Foundation for Innovative Social Development in Sri Lanka, the Centre for Health and Social Justice in India and Samoa’s own Samoa Victim Support Group.