Better Lives for Men, Better Lives for All

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International keynote speakers headline
MDN@25 anniversary event on July 28th

In one of the main events of our 25th-anniversary calendar, Men’s Development Network staged a very interesting and indeed inspiring online symposium on July 28th 2022.

Involving a day of enlightening and ultimately optimistic discussion on the Zoom Events platform, the event was opened with a special message from Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD, who struck the right tone for the times we live in.

The Thursday conference featured 19 contributors across seven different countries and was headlined by two international keynote speakers, namely USA-based Gary Barker, CEO and President of Equimundo, and sociologist and author Michael Flood, Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Themed NEW CONVERSATIONS, the event, which was hosted by IMS Virtual Events and included sign language interpretation, explored how men and boys can be positively engaged to be their most authentic selves and live happier, healthier lives.

While reflecting on how social conditioning can adversely affect male attitudes and relationships, the overarching message was a hopeful one — about harnessing men’s potential as agents of change to help create better lives for all.

Through their dedicated work and research, both Gary and Michael are acclaimed internationally for their work on transforming masculinities, advancing gender equality, and ending gender-based violence.

Our CEO Seán Cooke, who anchored the day’s proceedings, said at the end of the presentation by Australian sociologist and author Michael Flood: “It is heartening that the research from our #IrishMANSurvey coalesces with your ‘Man Box’ data from Australia. It is also encouraging to hear you speak about the positive ways of engaging men and boys.”

in his keynote contribution, Gary Barker said: “It’s important our sons see examples of caring masculinities around them, modelling to boys what male caregiving looks like. This can be from a father, a teacher, an uncle, a coach, a brother.”

As well as their well-received contributions, a range of relevant workshops were held to discuss how best to engage men and boys and the contemporary challenges to be faced.

Finally, a closing roundtable discussion took place asking Where is the Hope, and what does it look like? This led to conversations around the positive indicators we and our allies can identify in our mutual pursuit of gender equality and an end to gender-based violence. 

Much has been done to make society a fairer one for all, but clearly there is a lot more to do still.

You can watch what unfolded online via our video playlist above, which is also on our dedicated YouTube Channel.

Profiles of Speakers and Contributors

Dr Michael Flood

Sociologist and author of ‘The Man Box’, Queensland University of Technology

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr Michael Flood is an Associate Professor in Sociology at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. His research agenda focuses on gender, sexuality, masculinities, and interpersonal violence. His standing is such that Michael has been widely published among leading international journals and secured several competitively funded projects. His research has had a significant impact on government policy and programming. Themes he has published on include violence against women and violence prevention, men and masculinities, profeminist men’s advocacy, male heterosexuality, fathering, and pornography. He is the author of Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention (2018) and is the lead editor of Engaging Men in Building Gender Equality. In 2018, Michael published his acclaimed work “The Man Box: A study on being a young man in Australia” which explored the attitudes of young men towards masculinity, and how that influences their behaviour. It showed that social pressures to act like a man can lead to high levels of mental health, risky drinking, and a propensity towards acts of violence, online bullying, and sexual harassment.

President and CEO, Equimundo

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: A leading global voice in engaging men and boys in advancing gender equality and positive masculinities, Gary Barker, PhD, is CEO and co-founder of Equimundo (Center for Masculinities and Social Justice). Newly rebranded from Promundo-US, it has worked for more than a decade in nearly 40 countries. He is also co-founder of Instituto Promundo in Brazil, which began work on healthy masculinities and male allyship over 20 years ago. Gary is co-founder of both MenCare — a global campaign across more than 50 countries to promote men’s involvement as caregivers — and MenEngage, a global alliance of 700+ NGOs. He co-created and leads the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), the largest-ever survey of men’s attitudes and behaviors related to violence, fatherhood, and gender equality. Gary has co-authored four State of the World’s Fathers reports and has advised the UN on strategies to engage men & boys on gender equality.

Minister for Justice, Government of Ireland

Deputy McEntee was appointed Minister for Justice in June 2020, having been Minister for Mental Health and Older People at the Department of Health and then Minister of State for EU Affairs. In 2016, Helen was appointed to chair a newly established Government youth mental health task force. In that role, she set up a Young Persons’ Reference Group, co-chaired by singer Niall Breslin and mental health adviser Emma Farrell, “to ensure that the voices of our young people are at the core of a more open, more engaging, more supportive national conversation about mental health and wellbeing.” More recently, she has been to the fore in advancing the Third National Strategy for Domestic, Sexual, and Gender-Based Violence.

Creative Director, Language

Adam has 30 years’ experience in branding, communications, marketing, and business management. Dedicated to change through communications, he has developed messaging strategies and branding for Yes Equality and Together for Yes, as well as delivering national campaigns for clients ranging from Women’s Aid and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Central Statistics Office and the Department of Finance. As Creative Director of Language, he came up with the Yes Equality identity for the extraordinary and successful referendum campaign for marriage equality in Ireland in 2015. His expertise included brand strategy, campaign name, logo, and design of websites, social media and all campaign and canvassing materials. Its messaging built on a grassroots civil society campaign by resourcing and enabling local groups, organisations, and individuals. This resulted in a level of engagement and participation never seen before in a political campaign.

Executive Director, Work With Perpetrators European Network

Alessandra Pauncz is Executive Director of the Work With Perpetrators European Network (WWP EN), a young vibrant network of over 60 organizations from 30 European countries. She earned her PhD at the University of Rome (“La Sapienza”) and has been working in the field of domestic violence for over 20 years, covering many areas of expertise. She has advocated and worked for victims of domestic violence as a shelter worker, psychologist, researcher, manager, trainer, and in fund and conscious raising at a local (Association Artemisia), provincial (Equal Opportunities of the Province of Florence), regional, national and European level (European Women’s Lobby & WWP EN). She founded and ran the first WWP presence in Italy (CAM – Centre for abusive men) and set up the national Italian network of Working With Perpetrators (Relive). Additionally, Alessandra has published articles and books for the general public (Shifting power: 2012; Da uomo a uomo: Erickson, 2015; Dire di no alla violenza domestica: Angeli, 2016).

Chief Executive, White Ribbon UK

CEO of White Ribbon UK, Anthea is an experienced strategic leader working in the charity and not-for-profit sector. Her skills are in campaigning, women’s rights, social care, and public policy. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and her qualifications include LLM International Human Rights Law, and Prince 2 Project Management. Anthea was a member of the 2016 cohort, Leadership in Empowered and Healthy Communities programme.

Healthy Ireland National Project Lead, Department of Health

Biddy is the National Project Lead in Healthy Ireland within the Department of Health. Her areas of responsibility include healthy workplaces, mental health promotion, and men’s health. She has worked in Health Promotion for over twenty-five years at both strategic and operational levels within the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health. She has a background in Nursing and Addiction Counselling and holds an MA in Health Promotion from NUIG and in 2021 was awarded an MA in Advanced Facilitation Skills for Promoting Health and Wellbeing from WIT.

PhD Scholar, National Centre for Men’s Health (NCMH)

Recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship to continue his PhD at Columbia-Bassett Medical School in New York for the 2022/23 academic year, Conor is a Teagasc Walsh Scholar at the National Centre for Men’s Health (NCMH) in South East Technological University, Carlow. His research interests include gender and health, mental health and suicide prevention in men, and health promotion targeted at ‘hard to reach’ populations of men. He has a number of peer-reviewed publications to his name and has presented at national and international conferences on rural men’s health. He is a board member of the Ending Sexual Violence, Prevention and Support Committee (ESP) in SETU, and a member of the American Public Health Association. Conor’s PhD explores the socio-cultural context that shapes gendered behaviour among rural men in Ireland – with a particular focus on identities and masculinities among the farming community and its association with farmers’ health and help-seeking behaviour, to further inform the development of a training programme to support farmer wellbeing.

Chief Executive, Treoir

Damien has been CEO of Treoir (Informing Unmarried Parents), the National Federation of Services for unmarried parents and their children, since 2017, adding to his more than 20 years of experience working in the community and voluntary sector with a diverse range of communities. He was formerly Executive Director of patient organisation COPD Support Ireland and the Irish Traveller Movement. Damien has worked on many campaigns with communities to tackle discrimination, poverty, inequality, and exclusion.

Campaign Director, White Ribbon Scotland

Prior to joining White Ribbon Scotland, where he has been Campaign Director since 2017, Davy was a police officer for 30 years. Most of this time was spent in C.I.D. and a large proportion was spent working on sexual offences, child protection and general Violence Against Women (VAW) issues. This included investigations, leading a Divisional Public Protection Unit and working on Police Policy and Strategy in respect of VAW. He also worked closely with Glasgow’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre and a number of organisations such as Rape Crisis Scotland. After retiring from the Police, Davy sought to utilise his experience and White Ribbon Scotland (WRS) fitted the bill. He became its Campaign Communications Officer in 2013 and interim Coordinator three years later. In the little spare time, Davy is a keen walker and apprentice whisky connoisseur.

Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications, HSE Health & Wellbeing

Fergal is Head of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications with HSE Health & Wellbeing. He been working the area of health promotion for two decades, the first 10 years of which focused on Traveller health, working with Traveller men and male adolescents before going on to co-ordinate the Traveller Health Unit with the HSE in the midlands. He managed the HSE Health Promotion function in Dublin/Mid-Leinster for eight years before taking up his current role, in which he also leads on the area of men’s health and the delivery of the HSE ‘Healthy Ireland Men’ Action Plan. While working as a Health Promotion Manager, Fergal also led on the areas of Staff Health and Mental Health and Wellbeing for the national Health Promotion function. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree as well a Post Graduate Diploma in Communications, HDip in Education, and a Masters in Health Promotion. He is passionate about engagement and partnership working.

Former Programme Manager, Men’s Development Network

Liam Bolger has thirty years’ experience in men’s development work, a H-DIP in Social Personal and Health Education, DIP in Community Education and Project Development, a Dip in Humanistic Integrative Counselling and a facilitator in Family, Communication & Self-Esteem. He previously worked as the National Coordinator of Men’s Development with Men’s Development Network (MDN). His work included facilitating Men’s Development Groups, Men’s Development and Issue Based Days, MDN’s Annual National Men’s Development and Training Summer School, and as Co-ordinator of the MDN Parent Support Programme. Liam co-ordinates and facilitate 40 MDN Volunteer Representatives nationally who work in their communities to address issues of concern to men and to progress the work of the Men’s Development Network nationally. He also facilitated the MDN MEND Programme to end violence against women. Liam has a daughter and two sons and is a grandfather to four children, two girls and two boys.

Chief Executive, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Noeline is a human rights lawyer and CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, a voluntary organisation which works to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of sexual violence. Prior to this, she was for ten years Director General of access to justice organisation FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres. She previously ran a solicitor’s practice where she had a particular interest in refugee and immigration issues and in family law. Noeline has been a member of several statutory and NGO boards, including most recently the Commission on the Future of Policing. She currently chairs the Independent Patient Safety Council and the Child Care Law Reporting Project. She sits on the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s Women Peace & Security Oversight Group and its Audit Committee and is a member of UCD’s Governing Authority.

Male Domestic Violence Intervention Specialist, Ahimsa, UK

Paul has been working with male perpetrators of domestic violence since 1992, initially at the Everyman Centre in Brixton, London, and since 1996 at Ahimsa in Plymouth. His experience in this field includes development and implementation of group programmes, individual counselling, supervision of other workers, liaison with women’s services and liaison with statutory agencies (social services, probation, police). Paul has written numerous articles on men and masculinity for Achilles Heel magazine and contributed chapters to the books ‘The Politics of Masculinity’ edited by Michael Kimmel and ‘Working With Men For Change’ edited by Jim Wild.

Co-course Leader, South East Technological University

Paula is co-course Leader of the Masters in Advanced Facilitation Skills for Health and Well-Being at South East Technological University. She has also lectured on the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within the Department and have done so since 2003. Paula is a health promotion specialist with a keen interest in developing emotional intelligence, learning in the affective domain, facilitation skills and men’s health. She graduated from the University of Limerick with a PhD and also holds a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science (UL). Paula was previously on a full/part-time secondment to the HSE (2003-15) where she worked in the area of men’s health policy and men’s health promotion research.

Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Aid

Sarah is the experienced Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Aid, with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organisation management industry. Skilled in Non-profit Organisations, Politics, Operations Management, Strategic Planning, Organizational Development, Communication and Event Management, Sarah has strong business development and professional skills with a 1st Class MBS qualification from the Irish Management Institute: specialism in Executive Coaching and Strategy & Innovation, and Leadership.

Secretariat Coordinator, MenEngage Europe

Sofia is the MenEngage Europe Secretariat Coordinator at MÄN’s office in Stockholm. MenEngage Europe (MEE) consists of 105 European organisations across all parts of Europe working together towards more gender-equal societies and against men’s violence against women. MEE is a regional network and part of the global MenEngage Alliance. Sofia has a background in multiple civil society organisations, mainly focused on human rights in the Eastern Europe region.

Training & Resource Development Manager, MDN

Lorcan is Training & Resource Development Manager with MDN. He has almost two decades’ experience in the work that has included engaging with men, supporting the development of gender-sensitive training resources, informing men’s health policy, and mentoring and facilitating training with frontline service providers nationally. Lorcan has been centrally involved in the Engage National Men’s Health Training Programme partnership. He continues to support key men’s health initiatives. An experienced broadcaster, he has presented radio programmes highlighting issues impacting on men’s lives through MDN’s ‘Coming Into View’ radio programme.

Campaign Coordinator, White Ribbon NI

Tahnee is the Campaign Coordinator of White Ribbon NI which was launched in November 2021 to drive the global campaign forward in Northern Ireland. Tahnee began her journey as a volunteer with Women’s Aid ABCLN after attending an awareness session in her local office. She was later employed as a community engagement worker and worked on the “Older but no safer” project to increase awareness about domestic abuse and provide greater protection for women aged 55 and over. Through this work she began to realise the importance engaging men and boys to achieve real and lasting change. Tahnee has a 12-year-old son and recognises the important personal role she has to play in parenting but also acknowledges the impact male role models all around him will have on the way he sees the world. She has a particular interest in the influence of sports culture and works with teams and sports organisations such as the Northern Ireland Football League and also with the PSNI on a “Listen, Learn, Lead” plan.

Head of Programmes and Advocacy, MDN

Colm is Head of Programmes and Advocacy with Men’s Development Network, including coordination of the White Ribbon Ireland campaign. An International Human Rights Lawyer, he holds an LL.M in International Human Rights Law from Lund University, Sweden. He has served as a consultant for one of Sweden’s largest human rights research institutes and was involved in the implementation of capacity building programmes in Turkey. Colm has also worked with development and food insecurity in Colorado, USA. His research and advocacy interests include gender equality, sustainable development, economic, social, and cultural rights, sanctions, intersectionality, migration law, and human rights cities.

Lecturer & Facilitator, South East Technological University

Rose has over 25 years’ experience working in the community, in particular the Community Education and Community Development sector. She has also been a Lecturer/Facilitator in the School of Lifelong Learning in South East Technological University since 2001. Rose delivers programmes using innovative and creative approaches to engage participants in experiential learning. Locally and nationally, she has been active in the development of strategies and policies that influence community activity and education. Centrally involved in recalibrating the Good Enough Parent Programme, Rose joined the Board of Men’s Development Network in 2021. She has also been a management member of Waterford Women’s Centre since 1997, serving six years as its chair. Her qualifications include an MA in Advanced Facilitation for Promoting Health and Wellbeing.

Chief Executive, Men’s Development Network

Seán has been CEO of Men’s Development Network since October 2018. As well as the overall strategic and operational management of the organisation, he regularly represents men on advisory or consultative fora and/or at conferences, both national and international. Seán’s primary degree was in Communications Studies, with a Masters in Community Development. He has over 30 years’ experience working in Community and Voluntary sector, both at frontline and senior management level. His previous experiences included working in Community and Youth Development, Project Management of major community-based capital projects, and as a local development consultant.

Board Chairperson, Men’s Development Network

Noel is a retired former Principal Officer with the Department of Justice, who during his time in the Department served in the Courts, Garda, Prisons and Immigration Divisions of the Department. During his time with the Department he also served as its liaison with the Forensic Science Laboratory, the State Pathologist and the Coroners Service. He also had responsibility for dealing with the issue of Domestic Violence and Violence Against Women. He joined the Board of Men’s Development Network in 2015 and was elected Chairperson of the Board in 2018. He is also on the Board of Bishop Shanahan National School in Templeogue, Dublin.

Chief Executive, Sonas

Todd is CEO of Sonas, the largest provider of frontline services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the greater Dublin region. It also advocates on their behalf with other services and on issues that impact on the safety, welfare and wellbeing of women and children experiencing domestic abuse. Before taking up his position in late 2018, Todd was Deputy Director of Oberstown Children Detention Campus, having previously spent 20 years as a Law Enforcement Officer in the State of Vermont in the United States.

Director of Services (Client Support), MDN

MDN’s Director of Services – Client Supports, John manages our six MEND (Men Ending Domestic Violence) Programmes around the country and also oversees our national Male Advice Line and Counselling services. He trained as a psychotherapist in London and Colorado and worked in private practice for 10 years, being an accredited member of the National Association for Pastoral Counselling and Psychotherapy. John has presented at conferences nationally and in Europe and was a Board member of “Working with Perpetrators – European Network” for three years. MDN is co-hosting the WWP EN annual conference in Dublin this August.

Researcher, Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP), University College Dublin

Ruth Breslin has an MSc in Social Research Methods (Social Policy) from the London School and Economics and Political Science and over twenty years of research experience in both NGO and academic settings in Ireland, the UK and the USA. The focus of Ruth’s work has been efforts to tackle violence against women and girls. Over the last fifteen years, Ruth has developed particular expertise in research and policy development on prostitution and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Ruth is regularly called upon to input into the development of policy, legislation and practice on issues of commercial sexual exploitation, and has given evidence to legislators in numerous jurisdictions. Since 2018, Ruth has been a core member of the research team at SERP – the Sexual Exploitation Research Programme in the Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin. Ruth is the lead author of SERP’s studies on the health impacts of prostitution and the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on Ireland’s sex trade. Ruth is co-author (with Dr Monica O’Connor) of SERP’s comprehensive study on the commercial sex trade in Ireland with regard to the application of current prostitution legislation. Ruth’s work with SERP strives to bridge the gap between academia and frontline practice in generating new knowledge, insights and solutions on issues of commercial sexual exploitation in Ireland and beyond.

Project Development Officer: Research, Policy and Advocacy, MDN

Kenny Doyle is MDN’s Project Development Officer for Research, Policy and Advocacy. He has a degree in English and Sociology, a Masters by research in Sociology and is close to completing PhD research on active labour market policy and the government of unemployed people in Ireland. Kenny has presented his work at national and international conferences and has published a number of journal articles and think pieces related to his research. His research interests include Employment and Unemployment, Governmentality, Sanctions, and Active Labour Policy. Kenny has worked as lecturer and tutor in both Sociology and Social Policy and has worked in numerous research roles.

MEND Programme Area Coordinator, MDN

Marie is Coordinator of the MEND (Men Ending Domestic Abuse) Programmes in Waterford, Wexford and South Tipperary. She has a background in Community Education and is an experienced Facilitator and Project Coordinator.  

Marie brings transferable skills from past employment, in Community Development, Community Education, volunteering as well as sports coaching.

In the final year of a degree in Community Development and Education in South East Technological University, Marie has passion for this challenging and diverse work in behavioural change for men and striving for better lives for all.

MEND Programme Area Coordinator, MDN

Michael is Coordinator of the MEND (Men Ending Domestic Abuse) Programmes in Carlow/Kilkenny, Laois/Offaly and Kildare. He has previously held several positions within MDN: NMHP Administrator, Engage National Men’s Health Training Co-ordinator, Company Secretary, Compliance Officer, Campaign and Events Manager.

Michael has been working full-time with MDN since 2014, but his involvement stretches back to our origins in 1997.

Michael has vast experience both from the private and public sector and holds a level 7 Dip. in Youth and Community Work from UCC, National Certificate in Business and People Management from the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Michael also holds a National Certificate in Business Studies (Business Enterprise Development) from Waterford IT. He has a logical mind with a practical approach to problem solving.