What is Men Speak Out?
“Men Speak Out” is a 2-year partnership (January 2015-December 2016) between GAMS Belgium, FORWARD UK, HIMILO foundation in the Netherlands and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, which falls under the European Union’s programme on the priority area of harmful traditional practices (Daphne III). The project aims to engage men in the process of ending FGM and, on a broader scale, to end violence against women and promote gender equality through a human rights-based approach.
What are the main objectives?
Today, FGM is seen as a “women’s affair”. Men hardly interfere in the discussion on the issue and are badly informed about what this practice really is. However, since the issue of FGM concerns all members of the community, men can play an important role in the process of ending FGM. Men’s involvement in the fight against FGM is crucial and can accelerate the process to a complete abandonment of the practice in Europe, and by extension in the countries of origin.
How do you plan to achieve these objectives?
A quantitative and qualitative research study will be conducted in Belgium, UK and the Netherlands to increase knowledge of men’s role in perpetuating the practice. Peer educators will be trained in the 3 countries and specific tools (posters, booklet, video, TV and radio programme) addressing FGM with a human rights and gender-based approach will be developed specifically for men. When the training and the tools are finalised, a campaign to engage men in FGM prevention will be launched at European level, with a press conference on 5th February 2016. Education tools will be disseminated in schools and migrant’s associations and outreach activities will be organised by the male peer educators. National events will be held in the 3 countries with men AND women from the community. Men will be invited to speak out and to engage the dialogue with women about FGM. A pro-active dissemination of the results and tools will be organised at EU level during the last semester of the project. Guidelines and tools produced during the project will be sent to several EU key stakeholders involved in Human Rights, Gender, Migration or Health issues. We will reach out to international organisations International organisations such as UNICEF, UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO. Every opportunity will be used to transfer good practices and results.
What makes this project unique?
Not only will “Men Speak Out” deliver the first comparative report of men’s perception of FGM in the UK, Belgium and Netherlands, the partnership will also produce a training manual for male peer educators, an educational booklet to promote the dialogue on FGM between men and women, 9 different posters with men’s portraits and messages, 4 movie clips and a documentary as part of an awareness-raising campaign. A total of 45 male peer educators will be trained and active after the end of the project. We expect 6000 men, women and young people to be reached out to by the activities of the project.
This project does not end at European borders, we will have an impact in the countries of origin via TV and radio programmes. We believe that opening the dialogue between men and women on FGM will protect the next generation.