In line with the goal of reinforcing men’s commitment to take actions for women’s rights and gender equality and share tools they can use for doing so, Voices for Change (V4C) is organising a two–day conference for 300 men drawn from the four V4C focal states. Billed to hold between November 2-3 at the Golden Tulip, Festac Town, Lagos, the conference meant to be an encounter by men of different backgrounds, age and varying levels of influence, also aimed at sharing and analysing experiences of personal transformation and of influencing change in others within the family unit, school/college, workplace and community.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the event, the Output Lead and Key Influencer for V4C, Mr. Denis Onoise, said, “You would be wondering what is the role of men in gender inequality and why should men be interested in issues that have to do with gender inequality targeting men. I think that is something relatively innovative and very new in this environment. “
He explained further that over the years, it has been noted that once issues that have to do with gender inequality are mentioned, women readily come to mind, adding, “So if you are going to do anything that has to do with gender, people think men have got nothing to do with that. And because of those women have continued to organise series of programmes for women where they only dialogue with themselves without men really coming in and the women go back home to meet men who have no ideas of what they have discussed and this has really been the challenge because the understanding over the years has been that gender is about women, so people are not looking at the fact that when you talk about gender, it is actually saying two sexes are involved, adding that this we have missed over a very long period of time.”
Therefore, the forthcoming all-men conference, Onoise stressed is purposely to draw attention to the fact that gender issues also affect men and that both sexes have to work together to solve the challenges that women face. “We need to change the debate, we need to create more awareness about the fact that gender is not the same things as sex. Sex is biological attributes of who we are whether men or female while gender are what the society dictates and so when you talk about gender inequality all people think about is that women want to take over but that is not it. So it is important to clarify these issues with a conference like this,” he added.
V4C is a five-year transformational change programme, tackling underlying systemic and structural causes of gender inequality and exclusion of young women in Nigeria. It is strongly focused on developing an enabling environment for change, and set out to address and remove root causes of inequality and discrimination. A major component of the V4C programme is working with men groups including men networks, religious/traditional leaders and media personalities.