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Help Me Help You

August 18, 2011

For Search for Common Ground, women’s empowerment is not a women only issue. Countless studies have shown that when women are empowered they are better able to contribute to their families, communities and societies and do so with impressive consistency.

However, too often men are not included in projects and initiates designed to empower women, so the very idea of it becomes something that is threatening. Rather than present the scenario as a win-win situation, many men often feel that women’s empowerment means a loss, of power, resources, status etc. for them.

In DRC we’ve started a unique campaign that engages men as active participants in increasing respect of women and models positive male behavior. Quite often, men’s behavior and attitudes harm and undermine women, but by demonizing men or not speaking to them directly, we lose the chance to transform that behavior. The campaign is “Est-il un vrai djo?” (Is he a real man?)  and we’ve spoken of the work further in a recent article for Huffington Post:

Against the odds, we at SFCG have been reaching out to men in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the subject of a recent UN report on mass rape and human rights violations, running retraining programs for the Congolese army and airing short films aimed at changing attitudes toward women and transforming expectations for male behavior. This campaign, the first of its kind, asks viewers to think critically about traditional attitudes toward women showing various scenarios in daily life and asking in Lingala, “Vrai djo?” “Is this a real man?”

Vrai Djo is the first media campaign against sexual violence that seeks to promote a positive role for men. “One often sees campaigns that denounce men’s behaviors and say what they should not do, but one never sees a campaign that motivates men to become positive, to find their inner strength, and to respect women and girls,” explains Dirk Koch, our DRC country director.

Read the rest of the article here and let us know what you think about the campaign!

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