Men's engagement with gender issues in India has been growing. Men and boys had poured into the streets in large numbers in an unprecedented movement to protest violence against women after the tragic December 2012 gangrape of a young woman 'Nirbhaya' in Delhi. Since then there has been a continuous growing mass engagement by men on issues of gender. Two year later in November 2014 a mass advocacy campaign involving men for gender justice took place in the run-up to the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium (hyperlink to GS website) held in New Delhi in November with 95 participating countries. The defining Delhi Declaration and Call to Action (hyperlink) was issued at the end of the symposium which provided a roadmap on how to proceed in achieving systemic changes by engaging men and boys on the issue. The Ek Saath national campaign is a translation of the commitment of the Delhi Declaration and Call to Action. Two years on, the Ek Saath campaign has been launched by harnessing the energies of men and boys eager to be accountable for bringing gender and social change.
The Work With Men and Boys:
The campaign's strategy draws from over two decades of work by the campaign's partners through networks and programmes like Men's Action to Stop Violence Against Women (MASVAW) (Hyperlink), Samjdar Jodidar (Hyperlink) and work by FEM (Hyperlink) network members in different parts of the country. With a history of working on dismantling masculinity and challenging patriarchy, these state and national level networks are working on engaging men and boys for gender equality in a framework where they support women's rights. Some key lessons learnt in the work with men in India shows:
there are men in the community willing to take leadership roles in changing gender relations
a structured capacity building programme helps potentially interested men build new awareness about their own roles and responsibilities and take action to change these in family, community and institutional spaces
groups of men can be safe spaces for men to negotiate their personal change process as well as take collective action in the community and in institutional spaces
individual and collective action by groups of men can help change gendered social norms in the family, community and in institutions
in the presence of facilitative legal and policy provisions for improving women’s status (eg women's participation in panchayat or law against child marriage) and action by individual men and groups of men, it is possible to bring substantive changes in the social acceptance of these policy provisions leading to increasing levels of the policy implementation