Michael Kaufman

This paper sketches a framework for understanding this violence and its relation to the lives and experiences of men. It then looks at two sets of activities in which I have worked to challenge men's violence: the activities of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women and, secondly, work within the educational system.

For a moment my eyes turned away from the workshop participants and out through the windows of the small conference room and towards the Himalayas, north of Kathmandu. I was there, leading a workshop, largely the outgrowth of remarkable work of UNICEF and UNIFEM which, a year earlier, had brought together women and men from throughout South Asia to discuss the problem of violence against women and girls and, most importantly, to work together to find solutions.

As I turned back to the women and men in the group, it felt more familiar than different: women taking enormous chances – in some cases risking their lives – to fight the tide of violence against women and girls. Men who were just beginning to find their anti-patriarchal voices and to discover ways to work alongside women. And what pleasantly surprised me was the positive response to a series of ideas I presented about men’s violence: until then, I wasn’t entirely sure if they were mainly about the realities in North and South America and Europe – that is largely-Europeanized cultures – or whether they had a larger resonance. Here, then, is the kernel of this analysis:

In a world dominated by men, the world of men is, by definition, a world of power. That power is a structured part of our economies and systems of political and social organization; it forms part of the core of religion, family, forms of play, and intellectual life. On an individual level, much of what we associate with masculinity hinges on a man’s capacity to exercise power and control. But men’s lives speak of a different reality. Though men hold power and reap the privileges that come with our sex, that power is tainted.
This paper, originally prepared for UNICEF in 2003, synthesizes lessons from the past two decades of work with men and boys to end gender inequality and men's violence, and to promote new models of masculinity and new relations between women and men. It distills the conceptual tools that can help organizations focus such work so that it is not a drain on resources that could go to women and girls. And it develops a strategic framework for addressing and involving men and boys. Please see below for the attachment, in either PDF or RTF. A French-language version is available.