CARE Canada unabashedly works with women and girls.
It’s the centre of the imagery. The emphasis on empowerment. Walking in Her shoes.
But what about guys? When will we get the attention we deserve?
As a male working at CARE, the question must be addressed: Am I fighting for the wrong side in the battle of the sexes?
Far from it.
Over the past few months, I’ve taken a considerable amount of time to learn about CARE’s approach to gender equality. I must say, the folks here are really quite adamant about this. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are at the very heart of all aspects of programming: maternal and child health, food security, climate change, HIV/AIDS, emergency relief, economic development… you name it and there’s a gender lens attached to ensure it’s beneficial to both women and men equally. This is a pretty Big Thing at CARE.
And that’s really how it should be.
In many countries, men and women (or women and men) are not equal in social standing. Be it the public or private domain, the pendulum is often so far askew that it’s fallen over entirely.
Indeed, if you have a Y beside your X chromosome the chances are good you’ll have better access to health care, nutrition, paid work and education, not to mention you won’t fear domestic violence and you’ll have the ability to make decisions. High fives all around for men, just ignore the mothers, daughters and sisters looking on.
Fixing this situation is not done to the exclusion of men, in fact, including men is essential to addressing the imbalance. After all, helping improve the lives of one half of the population while building resentment in the other is not the secret to long-term success.
So as not to dissuade the brothers out there, let me be clear, men and boys are a part of everything CARE does. For example, CARE works with fathers in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, training them to feed their children nutritious food and to recognize signs of common childhood illnesses. This will help fathers to become more involved in childcare, easing women’s work burden. In CARE Canada’s own backyard, men are key members of the organization’s Gender Committee, keeping gender equality on everyone’s radar.
A country, community, or family cannot drive forward if half its tires are left flat and ignored. This goes way beyond gender or sex/male or female/woman or man; it’s a matter of human rights.