We are fortunate to work with a number of incredible youth activists, including Julian Bright, who volunteered with Campaign member Nobel Women's Initiative this summer! Check out Julian's blog on what drives his activism to promote gender equality and end gender violence in conflict: an inspiring read to kick off our web coverage of next week's MenEngage symposium in Delhi, India!
Julian Bright, High School Senior - Washington DC:
As a young man growing up in the world today, I’m appalled to hear about the gender-based crimes committed by men. After 17 years of living with my activist mother, Lisa VeneKlasen, traveling to Liberia with the Nobel Women's Initiative, marching for abortion rights in downtown Washington DC, and even listening to seminars about violence against women at the global AIDS conference in Mexico, I am quite aware of the destructive imbalance of power among men and women. Worldwide, societies are festering with unequal power dynamics, one of the root causes of violence.
Feminist groups worldwide are working tirelessly and admirably to correct this injustice, but women cannot achieve gender equality and end violence against women without the participation of men. When we talk about women's rights, we generally tend to overlook the reality of needing to change how men and boys think and act. We overlook their potential contribution to ending gender-based violence and inequality. Educating and working with young boys and girls to promote respectful relationships would definitely make progress toward preventing and eradicating gender inequality.
Fortunately, organizations such as MenEngage—a coalition of groups working with men and boys from diverse backgrounds—are bringing young men into the movement to end gender inequality. Most of the groups involved with MenEngage are based outside the US or are international, such as Campaign member Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa. It seems obvious that messages developed and communicated by African men will be more effective in African communities, but it’s inspiring to see all the ways that African men are addressing gender inequality. Another Campaign member working with MenEngage is Promundo, which is based in Brazil but works internationally like Sonke.
When I get to college, I look forward to working with some of the new organizations that have sprung up to confront the problem of sexual assaults on campus. That’s a good place for me to start this work.