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Originally posted on MenEngage Alliance

MenEngage Alliance members, including Equimundo, and partners convened at the 38th session of UN Human Rights Council (HRC38) in Geneva, Switzerland from June 18-22, 2018. Twenty-four participants from 16 countries represented MenEngage Alliance and Prevention+ to strengthen understanding, capacities, and advocacy efforts on feminist-informed approaches to engaging men and boys in gender equality and women’s rights.

Advocacy efforts included a Prevention+ side event on “promising practices to engage men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.” The event focused on five inspiring cases from Indonesia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Lebanon, and Uganda, showing a range of effective and promising strategies including research, programmatic interventions, and advocacy works.

More than 70 participants representing Permanent Missions to the HRC, civil society representatives/NGOs, women’s rights activists, UN agencies, and other stakeholders actively participated in the side event. It provided insights from feminist-informed and women’s rights-based approaches, as well as promising examples of translating the frameworks in practical projects to prevent and eliminate violence against all women and girls, as articulated by the HRC Resolution 35/10.

The side event was presided by Hon. State Minister for Health, Sarah Achieng Opendi, Government of Uganda, who shared the commitments of the Government of Uganda towards advancing women’s rights and gender equality. Other speakers at the event were Curtis Peters, Head of Human Rights, First Chancellor and the Second Secretary of the Canadian Mission to the UN; Veronica Birga-Chief, Women’s Rights and Gender Section, OHCHR; Maria Butler, Director of Programs, WILPF; and Laxman Belbase, Networks Manager, MenEngage Alliance. The event was moderated by Ilze Smit, Advocacy Officer with Rutgers Netherlands, the lead organization of the Prevention+ Consortium.

Strengthening our collective voice

One of the key objectives of bringing together 24 members and partners of MenEngage Alliance and the Prevention+ consortium was to strengthen interconnected advocacy efforts across national, regional, and international levels. HRC38 presented a rare opportunity for learning, collaboration, and exchange in these advocacy efforts. Several sessions were held to share and develop approaches for accountable practices during advocacy efforts, and how to continue advocating for a “men and masculinities” lens within the women’s rights and gender justice frameworks.

Several experts presented and shared their valuable insights among the participants on the mechanisms and instruments around CEDAW, the Universal Periodic Review, and other HRC mechanisms, including Meghan Doherty from ActionCanada, Patrizia Scannella from WILPF, Jennifer Rodriquez Bruno from MenEngage Alliance Global Secretariat, and Ilze Smith from Rutgers Netherlands. This process aimed to support and strengthen the knowledge and tools to do effective advocacy work with the UN, regional bodies, as well as national and regional governments.

Coordinated advocacy and collective action

A key advocacy point for MenEngage Alliance and Prevention+ participants was helping to keep a 2017 HRC Resolution on women’s rights high up on the UN agenda. Resolution 35/10 and a subsequent report by the Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) call for member states to take action to “prevent violence against women and girls by, among other means, fully engaging men and boys, alongside women and girls, and addressing the root causes of gender inequality, including gender stereotypes and negative social norms and unequal and patriarchal power relations.”

MenEngage Alliance was one of the civil society bodies that provided a submission to the OHCHR report, and Alliance members present at HRC38 continued to push for accountability in the language and practices pursued at the highest levels.

As part of these joint advocacy efforts, MenEngage Alliance members took the opportunity to meet with their respective countries’ permanent missions to the HRC, as well as regional bodies such as stakeholders from the African Union.

Highlighting human rights abuses in Nicaragua at HRC38

The Alliance has been keeping track of the continuing situation in Nicaragua, which has included extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances. Human rights organizations have also reported threats and intimidation campaigns to discredit human rights defenders, journalists, priests, students, and other demonstrators supporting the peaceful protests.

Standing in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua, MenEngage Alliance joined hands with Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos and the Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights to co-organize a panel discussion at HRC38 shedding light on the ongoing crisis and how persistent violence and human rights violations are causing the country’s institutions to dramatically deteriorate. The panelists, including Oswaldo Montoya from the MenEngage Alliance Global Secretariat, presented and debated what must be done to end the crisis and allow the country to find a path towards recovery and rebuilding at every level. They also discussed the role of international institutions in supporting the people of Nicaragua in their plea for justice, peace, and democracy.

A video recording of the panel discussion is available here (in Spanish).

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