A common Amharic terminology used to refer to men supporting women in promoting gender equality is አጋር, which translates to ally. The Oxford dictionary defines an ‘ally’ as “a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.” Various actors usually call upon men to be women’s allies in the quest for gender equality, placing the responsibility of advancing these issues primarily on women. To be an ally is indeed to support one in the achievement of goals and objectives they may have set, which can benefit greatly from the support and contribution of others.

 

In the case of male members of the #ArifWond #አሪፍወንድ community, our engagement in the collective effort to bring about gender justice in Ethiopia extends beyond being mere allies to initiatives that exist and are spearheaded by women’s groups, towards a deliberate act of taking active ownership of gender equality issues. To be more specific, we share an extract of our community’s belief statement to further articulate what we mean by an #ArifWond #አሪፍወንድ type of male engagement as follows:

 

Members of #ArifWond community believe in the ability of men to willingly forego their historically established privileges and positions. For the members, being just and fair to women, as they should be to other categories of the human family, is a way of expressing their humanity and to be unjust is to dehumanize themselves. The members subscribe to a conception of society in which individuals and groups of diverse sex, race, religion, culture, nationality, etc are organically linked and interdependent. Accordingly, they regard the welfare and suffering of one as the welfare and suffering of the whole. Given this conception of society, the members believe gender justice is for the benefit of men and women, girls and boys. In order to bring about gender justice, the members of #ArifWond community believe that notions of masculinity and the negative/toxic masculinities that cause harm to society and to men, have to be examined and unlearned.

 

From this short excerpt, one can then understand that an #ArifWond #አሪፍወንድ type of engagement for gender justice in Ethiopia, is one in which Ethiopian men become more purposeful and reflexive in exploring positive masculinities and challenging negative/toxic masculinities that are an impediment to equity in our communities. Indeed, an #ArifWond #አሪፍወንድ can be an ally to existing initiatives AND also take ownership of the role he needs to play in creating inclusive and just societies.

 

Email us at arifwondgroup@gmail.com to share your thoughts and ideas and also if you want to be part of the #ArifWond #አሪፍወንድ community