Men’s Development Network proudly flew the flag for Ireland at the MenEngage Alliance event in Spain in October 2021.
MDN was represented by our Head of Programmes and Advocacy, Colm Kelly Ryan, and National Rep Sé Franklin, who has been a member of the steering committee of the regional MenEngage Europe Network since it was formed in January 2009. He also holds a coordinator role with the grouping.
The four-day Seville Initiative was centred around the Men for Equality and Against Sexist Violence conference on October 21st (#21Oct21).
It was organised by MenEngage Europe, an important vehicle through which organisations and individuals working with men and boys can achieve gender equality, end violence, and promote health for men, women and children.
As part of MenEngage Europe’s participation in the forum, Colm delivered a presentation on MDN’s advocacy in the context of transforming masculinities. This covered our work towards ending sexual exploitation in Ireland (e.g. the Beyond Exploitation campaign) and as the lead organisation on the White Ribbon campaign in Ireland (Men Ending Gender-Based Violence).
During the trip, Colm availed of various opportunities to network: including a meeting with Anthea Sully, CEO of White Ribbon UK. They discussed their respective programmes, the potential to build capacity, and possible strategic partnerships.
In his contribution, Colm also highlighted our ongoing campaign, in partnership with Action Aid Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, seeking urgent Government ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention No.190. The overdue passage of this legislation will guard against violence and harassment in the workplace, not least along gender lines.
There was considerable interest in how this civic society alliance was developed and Colm urged other members of MenEngage Europe to bring pressure to bear on their governments to take action to ratify the convention to protect workers, and women in particular.
Colm’s input further explained the programmes and values of Men’s Development Network, as contained in our Strategic Plan, 2020-25. MDN works through a transforming masculinities lens and all members of the MenEngage Global Network commit to this approach.
MenEngage Alliance Europe has three functions: networking, capacity building, and advocacy. MenEngage adopts a pro-feminist, intersectional approach, working to undo male social conditioning and dealing with harmful gender norms in society.
While in Spain, MenEngage delegates supported a collective declaration at the event to pursue a feminist agenda when it comes to working with men and masculinities.
The successful Seville gathering was the first physical meeting of the MenEngage Alliance in Europe since the emergence of COVID-19. The immediate future direction of the alliance will be shaped at a planned meeting in Warsaw next March to form an advocacy working group.
In co-hosting this meeting with the Share The Care Foundation and the MenEngage Alliance Europe Secretariat, Men’s Development Network looks forward to being an influential voice for Ireland at these talks.
Video from Seville #21Oct21 march
During their Spanish sojourn, MDN’s representatives also took part in a major “Men against ‘machista’ violence” march. Over 1,000 people attended the colourful show of unity on the streets of Sevilla to denounce male violence and show their support for gender equality. The demonstration was covered by RTVE, the Spanish public broadcasting service (see here).
On the same subject, Colm Kelly Ryan was among the contributors to a special episode of the Now and Men podcast (broadcast by the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse at Durham University, UK) which you can listen to below.
Colm Kelly Ryan presenting to MenEngage Europe members
MDN's Head of Advocacy Colm Kelly Ryan with Anthea Sully, CEO of White Ribbon UK
MenEngage is a global alliance of NGOs and UN agencies that seeks to engage boys and men to achieve gender equality.
At a national level, members include more than 400 NGOs from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Europe.
MenEngage Europe is the regional European network of the alliance. The Alliance came together in 2006 with the general goal of working in partnership to promote the engagement of men and boys in achieving gender equality, promoting health and reducing violence at the global level, including questioning the structural barriers to achieving gender equality.
The MenEngage partners work collectively and individually toward the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those components that focus on achieving gender equality.
Activities of the alliance include information-sharing, joint training activities and national, regional and international advocacy.
It develops joint statements of action on specific areas of engaging men, carries out advocacy campaigns, and seek to act as a collective voice to promote a global movement of men and boys engaged in and working toward gender equality and questioning violence and non-equitable versions of manhood.