#MeToo, White Ribbon, HeforShe – these campaigns are a collaboration by men and women to achieve gender equity and end violence against women. In recent times, they have dominated media headlines.
Yet Dr Joyce Wu questions whether involving men is necessarily the right approach. She presented her argument at the launch of her new book on the topic at ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.
“Currently involving men to stop violence against women enjoys a lot of currency and celebration,” she said, referring to the campaign examples.
“This celebration is a good thing because violence against women or gender equality affects everyone and we all have a role to play in resolving these issues,” she said.
“However, men’s involvement must also be meaningful and avoid replicating the stereotype of men as heroes and women as victims to be saved.”
Dr Wu hopes her book will spark a conversation on how best to achieve this balance.
“We need to reflect how we can involve men without retreating into a benevolent patriarchy or an acceptance of male privilege because that male privilege is being used to combat violence.”
Most importantly, she stressed this cannot be achieved by a ‘quick fix.’
“Yes, we all want answers, but a quick fix…will actually lead to costly mistakes. You need to understand context and to have the empathy to explore and the courage to ask questions.”
Her book includes insights from her experience researching in the field in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Timor-Leste. At the launch, she spoke about one story from her time in Pakistan.
“I have heard inspiring stories where, for example, women have stood up to their husbands because they believe their daughter should not be involved in an arranged marriage at the age of fifteen or sixteen. And that their daughters have a right to finish high school and complete university should they qualify or wish to do so.”
By CAP Student Correspondent Georgie Juszczyk
» Copies of Involving men in ending violence against women: development, gender and VAW in times of conflict can be purchased online.
» Listen to the podcast of the book launch (mp3, 28.4 MB) Duration 31minutes