Gender Awareness: SA Men’s Forum briefing

Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

Joint Committee monitoring on the improvement of quality of life and status of women

12 October 2007

Chairperson :
Ms M Morutoa ( ANC)

Documents handed out:
Successes & Challenges- Gender Awareness Men’s involvement, Men’s organisations programme

Audio recording of meeting

The Men’s Forum presented a document on the successes and failures faced by Men’s organisations on gender awareness. It defined gender equality as taking interests of both women and men into consideration, noting that this equality was necessary for development. He examined the current programmes, and their successes and failures. It was clear that the programmes ranged from government departments at all three tiers to civil society and community organizations, and were promoted also through one-off workshops, events, and linkages with women’s organisations. Challenges included lack of co-ordination, resistance from traditional and religious leaders, and full commitment from the private sector. Possible solutions included better use of private sector resources and a focus on sustainable programmes. Counselling projects should address a number of issues and attempt to deconstruct negative “masculine” expectations. Members expressed their appreciation to Mr Botha on a thorough presentation, and questioned whether there was a coordination network, the sources of funding, the research, the content of the schools’ programmes, and whether men were now reporting women-on-men violence, and whether police were equipped to deal with the issues.

Mr Mbuyiselo Botha, Secretary General, The South African Men's Forum, briefed the Committee on the successes and failures of the Men’s Forum. He defined gender equality as equal rights, noting that in gender equality both the interests of men and women were taken into consideration. He stated that equality between men and women was necessary for development.

Mr Botha tabled the anti-gender violence based programmes, pointing out that these were run across government departments, through training gender focal points, awareness sessions, through Local Government and also through specific calendar events, men’s organizations supporting women’s programmes, stokvel and shebeen programmes, fatherhood projects and traditional leadership and community organisations.

Mr Botha summarized the successes and failures of each. He emphasised the success that the Boys Camp, run by the Mpumalanga Government, yielded, describing that it had discussed what it meant to be a boy, investigated peer pressure and given skills on coping with change and challenge. It had meant a great deal to  the boys who attended it.

With regards to the challenges facing men’s programs, Mr Botha pointed out that there was a lack of co-ordination, and resistance from traditional and religious leaders. Mr Botha further questioned the commitment of the private sector, and pointed out that it was necessary to achieve partnerships with civil society and government. The Post Office’s 16 days of Activism was truly a success story.

Mr Botha then presented some possible solutions. He noted that private sector resources should be used, and that there should be focus on sustainable, rather than ad hoc, programmes. Counselling projects should address anger, frustration and pain and deconstruct the negative “masculinity” traits to create a different boy child.

The Chairperson complimented Mr Botha and noted that he had highlighted many points that were traditionally being ignored.

A Member of the committee asked if the forum had any co-ordination network.

Mr Botha said that there was a co-ordination network. An example of a programme which as part of the Men’s Forum network was the Sonke Gender Justice, which focused on rural areas.

The Chairperson asked if the Men’s Forum was getting any funds, and if so the source of that funding.

Mr Botha replied that the programme was facing difficulties with funds. Eskom had stopped funding. He believed that the problem with funding was that many male CEOs did not see the value of funding missions such as the Men’s Forum.

Ms J Semple ( DA) complimented Mr Botha on his work and noted appreciation for what he was doing; there was much to discuss with regard to gender equality. Ms Semple asked if the programme had done any research on the issues it had raised.

Mr Botha admitted that the Forum had not done any research, but they were going to be meeting with Ikwezi Institute to see if they could conduct some research. At that moment there was no scientific research and the work was based on perceptions encountered.

Ms J Masilo ( ANC) asked if the organisation’s programme on schools dealt with issues  of violence, crime, and teenage pregnancy.

Mr Botha replied that under their school’s programme, there was one programme on Gender Health, which focused on HIV/ AIDS and teenage pregnancy and through this programme the various topics that Ms Masilo had raised were discussed. 

The Chairperson said that she was concerned about the recent reports of murders in the sugar cane plantation. She noted that the  365 programme on  violence against women had said nothing about the incident, and it was not showing any interest in the events.

Mr Botha agreed that there were problems with the programme as companies did not show much commitment to it. It would have been great if throughout the 365 days there were reports being received from companies about the events occurring and greater publicity.

Ms M Makasi (ANC) asked if there were men coming out, similar to women, to report  physical abuse by their female partners. She further asked if police were properly advised on how to deal with such cases.

Mr Botha stated that men were coming out to talk about this issue. Although there was a time when police were not dealing with these issues well, this appeared to have been addressed, and there was now better advise being given to the police on dealing with the matters.

Members reiterated their congratulations to Mr Botha, and said that it would be useful to invite him to facilitate workshops in parliament that would inform members on the issues that his programme was covering.

The meeting was adjourned. .


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