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The world revolves around a woman and her courage. Her Courage is my inspiration.

But then there are men and boys who are the most important part of her life. Men often are closely linked to all the phases in a woman’s life. As a mother, a she nourishes him makes him stand strong on his feet. As a sister, she gives him the companionship of a play-mate, a care-giver, a strong pillar of support. She respects him, loves him endlessly and devotes her life to him as a wife and his better half. She tries to make both ends meet with all the courage she can gather as a ‘Woman’. Her courage and inner strength keeps her going……

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I am fortunate to have experience in working with Tribal women in the most remote locations in India, trafficked adolescent girls from the neighborhood countries, women from the red light areas and most recently working with Muslim women and girls. There wasn’t a better experience gave me the courage to lead the change and draw inspiration from some great village women leaders. As part of the change process, legal empowerment of women and girls is the strongest tool for making them aware of their rights. There have been thousands of such change agents who came across my path towards this journey while working with the Multiple Action Research Group (MARG) which is an NGO working on legal empowerment based in New Delhi, India. This inspiration gave me the courage in abundance to empower women, girls and men about laws on education and gender based violence. A major shift was reflected in the participation of men and boys in our programs to take lead in promoting education of girls in their community.

At the international level, my current organization, CARE, inspires me to see women colleagues who have support from spouses to take care of their new born’s while they equally divide time between work and home. CARE puts forth an outstanding model for young leaders like me to learn from a transparent and value based approach. It truly shows that gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the heart of its programming, as is reflected in its Vision for 2020. Working with women’s empowerment implies working to shift gender norms too, which necessarily involves men. The work culture makes me reflect on the fact that while we work on gender equity across our projects, we need to be appreciative of each of our staff. Working abroad poses a lot of challenges for working couples especially women

Here I quote two examples from CARE’s work and approach on gender stereotypes, relation to partners, as well as their professional work.

“The Abatangamuco approach is an important part of CARE Burundi’s program approach to social change towards gender equality. Abatangamuco (“those who bring light”). CARE is supporting the Abatangamuco to convince more men in Burundi to challenge traditional practices and influence others to change their harmful behavior against women. Abatangamuco is a social movement of men who speak out to their communities about their personal transformation that supports a more egalitarian society. CARE is now supporting a growing number of Abatangamuco to convince more men and women in Burundi to challenge traditional practices and influence others to change their harmful behavior against women.”

CARE Balkans: “The Young Men Initiative – The program that started in 2007 targeted boys and young men between 13 – 19 years old in Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia. With a goal to reduce gender-based violence (GBV), CARE implemented a ground-breaking program that worked with young men aged 13-19 to deconstruct masculinity in their cultures and determine how gender norms and male socialization lead to inequitable attitudes and behaviors. The program was successful in changing attitudes in a more gender equitable way.”

These two examples reinforce a global response on changing mindsets not just in our programme areas but also in our workplace by building capacities, promoting education and instilling confidence through awareness and empowerment. Women and girls together with men and boys have been revolutionary in bringing that social change. This year we need to make an strong effort to make efforts to make paradigm shifts. To combat Gender based Violence, it is not only a women’s issue.
It’s a men’s issue!

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