‘Men must provide alternative narrative of masculinity’

December 07, 2016 12:35 am | Updated 12:35 am IST

Mumbai, 06/12/2016: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Women Executive Director during function at Horel Taj, Mumbai.

Photo: Vijay Bate

Mumbai, 06/12/2016: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Women Executive Director during function at Horel Taj, Mumbai.

Photo: Vijay Bate

Mumbai: The teaser for Sons of India , the sequel of the National Award-winning documentary Daughters of Mother India , opens with a story of a Haryana-based farmer who married a gang-rape survivor, and encouraged her to become a judge and fight her own case.

Director Vibha Bakshi’s film, scheduled for a March release, is inspired by the United Nations’ mandate to seek men’s participation to end violence against women and gender inequality.

It was fitting, then, that the trailer of the film was released in the presence of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, The United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women, at the WeUNiTE: Investing in Planet 50-50 conference held by the Indian Merchant Chamber in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Hindu Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed on the importance of the role men and boys can play to end gender violence and inequality. “No country in the world can achieve gender equality without a strong women’s movement, and it is crucial to support and strengthen it,” she said.

Hence, diversifying participation and involving men to become important players in the movement is crucial. “The men must say that I will not beat a woman, I do not want to be a trafficker, and I will not marry a child and abuse anyone at my work place.” Men must become role models and provide an alternative narrative to see what it means to be muscular and to project positive masculinity. A lot of boys grow up in homes where they haven’t seen the best of role models. They rely on leaders in society, and hence, men need to come forward to play their part, she added.

The Under Secreatry General also appreciated the fact that unlike many nations, India has been taking substantial steps to end gender violence. She discussed the recently passed legislations to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace and the Criminal Amendment Act passed after the 2012 Delhi gang rape.

She thinks, however, that implementation of the legislation is not up to the mark. “A robust judiciary and police system has a great potential for recourse if implemented well. For women who have become victims of family violence, taking the culprit to the court is still a big stress. When they do go to court, they aren’t treated well and many women drop the cases themselves.”

Though she is happy that after the Delhi gang rape case the voices against sexual violence and the commitment to find solutions to end gender inequality have become stronger, she says there is also a need for more legislation, especially to protect unborn girls.

One such initiative is that by the IMC. It has signed a memorandum of with the UN to set up platforms for skill development, education, entrepreneurship and funding for women.

The writer is freelance journalist

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