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Let’s Change the Story: Open Hearts, Open Doors for Women and Men

Giving Voice to both Women and Men is the path for Empowerment and Gender Equality

Active group of Women in Nairobi, Kenya working to influence the discourse on women & girls empowerment and rights, and gender equality

“Community, Safe Spaces, Listen, Do not judge, Communicate Externally, Feel, Love Yourself (and try dating yourself before dating others)” – Pieces of advice from JuVan Langford.

Watch an extract of this powerful experience-sharing on Understanding Masculinity from JuVan Langford, on a mission to empower boys and men to live, love and lead from the heart. 

From my experiences and actions, Women and Girls look out for one another. Always. If the Friendship is sincere, they look after one another and make sure you are OK. Also when you say you are OK but your face, your behavior or your body say the exact opposite.

What about Men? How do they feel? Do they build safe spaces for sharing their feelings and emotions? Are they changing the perceptions or the mislead expectations coming from societal rules and beliefs? Do they ask themselves: What and Who do I want to be? What types of stories do they tell themselves and how do they project themselves to the world? What is happening in the Men’ World that we are not understanding, leading to shocking violence against girls and women?

I am following the development and the #HeforShe and Global Communications Campaign of UN Women, the specialized agency for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in Latin America and the Caribbean. Data from the UN Women Global Database on Violence against Women in Mexico, for instance, tells us that violence perpetrated against women by an intimate partner is of 14 %, 7 % in the last 12 months, and the Gender Inequality Index rank is at 73 out of 189. 

What are the reasoning behind these statistics? Why are men aggressive, violent and careless of consequences?

In the Girls’ and Women’ World, we use Mentoring and Guidance, by Empowering Girls to be who they wish to be: Follow your Dreams, Be who you want to be, Follow your Passions and Create your own World, irrespective of socio-cultural stereotypes and gender-related professions. Smile, Fly, Be Happy, Be soft, Be gentle. This is what Girls are taught. 

What are we teaching to boys and men? Be tough, act, do not feel, do not cry, do not show your emotions. 

Result: Boys tend to suppress feelings and revert their violence to girls and women, who are not the problem, but they can actually be the solution, or the path to better men-women relations and understanding. 

Making sure you are a good mother, a good sister, a good godmother, a good friend is what girls need in order to thrive as individuals, as mothers, as lovers, as workers, and to grow resilient, independent, with sound judgement and analytical critical thinking to question the status quo. This is why girls gather in clubs, in associations, in meetings, outside of work, over a cup of coffee, to discuss, debate, talk over feelings, cry, debate again, reach solutions, discuss with partners and solve issues.

What do men need, in order to thrive and feel they occupy an important space in the world? They act, they show strength, but they do not communicate, as women do. Communication-wise, women and men are completely different ( remember the book “Men are from Mars and Women from Venus?” ). However, in order to reach conclusions and solutions, the only way men-women can connect is to talk things out, discuss, think about things over a period of time, come back with arguments, and reach compromises, that can fulfill both parties. 

I am throwing an idea: how about we sit down and communicate more? If styles are different, let’s get together and find solutions. Let us not use fight, but constructive criticism to debate and rise together. 

Let us Refine Stories, Change the Course of our Future Actions by knowing ourselves first, and then Go into the World and Do not harm others. Women need to Unite, but Men need to be part of the conversation, to raise children who can be understanding, tolerant, accepting diversity and knowing who they wish to be. Change and Travel Often ( my humble advice to you)

Women can support Men, as well as Men can support Women. We need one another.

@GaiaParadiso

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