The latest buzz on women’s rights has been on the speech delivered by Emma Watson. She was promoting the HeForShe campaign launched by UN Women on September 20, 2014.
I’d like to pick up on her comment that, “the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.” I agree.
I have been working on women’s rights advocacy and implementation at the national level in Canada and overseas for 16 years. In that time I have been told by some people that they were surprised I didn’t hate men. They found it shocking that I (and colleagues of mine) even chose to engage men in the process to address and eliminate violence against women. An initial oversight, by many, is that the approach we take to eliminate violence against women includes addressing gender-based violence against men.
To exclude men in the process of establishing and implementing women’s rights is to exclude one significant contributor to the problem. How can we have women’s rights if one of the parties is not included in the conversation? And when I say conversation, I don’t mean a gathering where men are blamed or isolated. I also don’t mean a conversation where gender violence against men is not acknowledged. I mean a genuine exchange involving curiosity, understanding and collaboration.
Consider what Ms. Watson asked: “How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?”