Mothers Matter Centre Launches #MenLikeMe Campaign
By: Marija Robinson and Yusra Qadir
Violence Against Women happens everywhere. It is a violation of human rights. Projects to prevent and end Violence Against Women have been targeting women and girls for decades urging them to report abuse and raise their voice if their rights are violated. Despite intensive efforts and significant resources spent on this work, the overwhelming prevalence and climbing rates of Violence Against Women highlight that efforts channeled at women and girls are not enough. We need to work with men and boys for sensitization, awareness raising and agency building. As development practitioners we have learnt that preventing and ending Violence Against Women requires men and boys to play an active part in rejecting stereotypical gender roles and harmful patriarchal values and practices. With this goal in mind, The Mothers Matter Centre launched its Violence Against Women (VAW) program to create awareness about gender-based violence and destigmatize the discourse surrounding it, specifically in in refugee and immigrant communities.
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a surge in instances of Violence Against Women. In Canada, vulnerable and isolated women were at a greater risk of experiencing violence for the first time or suffering from increased or more severe violence. Yet, only a fraction of these incidents were reported by victims. The campaign affirms that women deserve to feel safe from abuse, whether emotional or physical. Creating meaningful change, and preventing this violence, cannot be the responsibility of women – who are the victims. Placing the onus on them adds yet another burden on their shoulders while failing to address the root cause of the issue which is often the behaviour of men.
The Men Like Me campaign strategically targets men and boys within refugee and immigrant communities. It recognizes men’s critical role in preventing violence against women within their communities and uses a strength based approach to reinforce positive ideas of masculinity. Men Like Me challenges men and boys to realize their full potential through understanding that violence does not equal strength. The campaign also aims to destigmatize discourse on gender-based violence. It is using ethnic media outlets and social media to broadcast key, culturally appropriate and multilingual messages.
The campaign messaging materials include a video, a factsheet and a magazine ad/poster. These resources These resources are also available in French, Spanish, Arabic, Dari, and Pashto at https://mothersmattercentre.ca/vaw/.
The campaign is being run in partnership with White Ribbon Canada. White Ribbon is the world’s largest grass-root movement of men and boys working on issues of social justice including Gender Based Violence. We hope that this campaign, the messaging materials and extensive resources offered by White Ribbon will help men and boys recognize Violence Against Women as an important issue and encourage them to access the resources that they need to increase their knowledge, seek help/support and join the fight to prevent and end Violence Against Women in their communities.