Tackling Homophobia in Brazilian schools: What more needs to be done?

18/03/2014

Ilana Mountian

In order to tackle homophobia in Brazil, we need to understand it as a structural matter, part of a complex system. The interactions between educational policies against homophobia with other public policies, such as poverty reduction, work, health and others need to be strengthened.

These are the main finding from my recent policy audit that we undertook as part of the DfID-funded Sexuality, Poverty and Law programme to analyse public policies against homophobia and transphobia in the educational system in Brazil. In order to tackle economic and social inequality, it is paramount to understand that the reproduction of inequalities historically impacts on specific groups. In this audit, the focus is on the impacts of homophobia (and transphobia) on poverty; considering the intersections between gender, sexuality, race, class and age.

We have analysed key aspects of public policies in education and sexuality in Brazil, which have been designed as part of the wider programme Brazil Without Homophobia (BWH – Programa Brasil sem Homofobia), launched in 2004. The analysis was based on a number of policy material, previous research on the theme, interviews with educators and professionals working directly with the programmes for education without homophobia, interviews with transsexual women and travestis and participation in meetings with transsexual people, educators and policy makers.

While the BWH was an important initiative towards tackling homophobia in Brazil, the analysis shows that there was a range of obstacles that hindered the implementation and access to policies against prejudice and violence. Multi-sector policies operating in an integrated manner were lacking in this context.

To put this into context we highlighted the broad social background and educational issues facing students in Brazil, the high levels of homophobic violence in Brazilian society, how religious discourses operate in politics and everyday struggles for equality, as well as the need for better coordination and implementation of educational initiatives.

What more needs to be done?

In our audit report we have highlighted the following recommendations for ensuring that policies to tackle homophobia have the maximum impact:

  • Homophobia (as well as sexism, racism, classism, discrimination against those with disabilities and others) should be considered as a structural matter.
  • A clearly supported strategy is needed against homophobia and sexism in educational policies and the national curriculum.
  • There is a need to articulate and strengthen the intersectionality between educational policies against homophobia with other public policies, such as poverty reduction, work, health and others.
  • Long-term policies against homophobia should be developed.
  • There is a need to acknowledge and develop strategies to tackle local resistance -e.g. from religious fundamentalist people to policy implementation.
  • Resources are required to support staff promoting equality (information, workshops, protection from abuse, permanent forums).

Initiatives against homophobia and sexism in schools need to be further developed and be part of a wider agenda to tackle homophobic violence and discrimination. Building upon our research, it is fundamental that policies that consider sexuality and gender in Brazil, beyond stereotypical understandings, are developed – and that they also consider the intersections with race, class, age, disability and other factors. These policies have to work as an integrated and coordinated multi-sectoral strategy in order to overcome exclusion, social inequality and poverty. Further investigation is needed into the ability of LGBT individuals and families who live in extreme poverty to access social welfare provisions, like the Bolsa Familia.

Only when homophobia – and other forms of discrimination – are seen as a structural issue of inequality will we see real improvements for tackling homophobia in Brazil.

Ilana Mountian is a post-doctoral researcher at the Universidade de São Paolo.

Read other recent blogs by the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme:


Working with creativity to empower women and children

07/03/2014

Vivienne Bensonprofile picture Vivienne Benson

Every year on 8 March, thousands of events are held around the world to inspire, celebrate and empower women to mark International Women’s Day (IWD). This year on 6-7 March, it is directly preceded by the President of the General Assembly to the United Nations (PGA) High Level discussion on The Contributions of Women, the Young and Civil Society to the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

At the centre of the PGA discussion are the challenges that continue to impede groups from participating fully in society and from having the scope to ensure the accountability of decision-makers through their actions and voices.

Empowering marginalised women, men and young people to speak for themselves on issues of equity and rights should be a primary objective of the UN and other global decision makers. Key to that objective is developing the skills and capacity of women, men, young people and civil society to use different tools for creative expression in order to support people to speak through the medium that is most relevant to them.

Telling their own stories
The Participate Initiative’s partners have worked with participatory methods to facilitate processes where people living in poverty and marginalisation can tell their own stories about how and why change happens in their lives. The Middle East Non-Violence and Democracy (MEND) works to promote active non-violence and open media in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. They have worked with marginalised women from these areas to share their reality through film.

Palestinian women filming

Palestinian women share their stories with the world through participatory film-making. Credit MEND 2013

MEND worked with a group of women in the village of Al Jib. The group learnt how to make their own films, from behind and in front of the camera. Reflecting on this process the women involved explained that they were ‘happy because we have a voice and we can send our message out’. In making their film, they are able to talk about what is most important to them: ‘there isn’t a single word in the world or in the dictionary that can express my anger and sadness [about the Wall that encircles village] and the tragedy because it really has no limits’. The clarity and poignancy of this message is expressed in their short film – Unhappy Birthday.

The participatory video process enabled the women to build relationships and learn from other women in their community. It has supported them to build the confidence and belief that they can and have the right to express their aspirations for change, ‘what I gained from the project the most was that I have more self-confidence, I am more strong and more sociable now’.

The Participate Initiative has 18 partners within 29 countries, all of whom have worked with the poorest and most marginalised communities to communicate the issues that are important in their lives, on their own terms. The Seed Institute, Kenya, Nairobi worked with children in Mwiki to conduct their own research on the experience of children living with disabilities. In their findings they explained that these children were forgotten and ignored. Using participatory video, they voice their concerns and identify practical solutions to improve the lives of children living with disabilities, and their families.

International Women’s Day and the PGA discussions should stand as a reminder that women and children should be heard in their own voice. The use of video and other creative mediums are effective ways to empower communities to find their own voice and speak their unfiltered message locally and globally.

Vivienne Benson works as Research Administrator at IDS and is the Events Coordinator for the Participate Initiative.

Read other recent blogs about Participate:

Watch the short videos:


On International Women’s Day: Inspiring teaching for a new generation of policy makers

06/03/2014

Natalie Jeffers and Jenny EdwardsJenny_Edwards200

The theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is ‘inspiring change for greater awareness of women’s equality’ and what better way to inspire change than to start in the classroom? Over five years of research, the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment’s programme has uncovered a multitude of stories around the journeys of women’s empowerment. This exciting new learning platform transforms these stories into resources which can be used for teaching from secondary school to university levels as well as in workshop and training situations. The aim is to inspire and influence the next generation of policy makers, activists and academics around issues of gender equality.

Teaching modules
The Pathways Learning Platform launching on 8 March in celebration of IWD 2014 is a new educational website that promises to reinvigorate teaching and learning on a range of subjects connected to gender, women’s empowerment and development. The platform, which is a free open-access site, contains four modules, which connect to Pathways’ four research themes.Pathways image for blog jpg

  • Empowerment and Women’s Work explores what it is about work that makes it empowering for women. It presents the experiences of women who have navigated routes of empowerment through work, often in difficult and restricting societies and political systems.
  • Politics, Equality and Voice explores the ways greater fairness for women participating in politics can be achieved and presents factors which enable or constrain women from fully participating in politics.
  • Women, Representation and Sexuality takes the body as its entry point to understanding ways sexuality and pleasure can be a positive force in development policy and practice and challenges the negative language used and approach taken by institutions working with women on sexuality and female representation.
  • Understanding and Evolving Empowerment explores fresh ways to measure empowerment and evaluates the power of quantitative vs qualitative. It presents a broad range of projects, which have used alternative techniques to collect data and have helped to expand our conceptual understanding of the meanings and practices of empowerment in different regions and for different women.

Resources for you
The platform is aimed at a wide range of users and has filters to access content by academic level. It provides resources for students and teachers as well as others. Whether you are part of a community group, work for a women’s organisations, are facilitating workshops or are studying gender related undergraduate programmes, you can access resources under the ‘other groups’ category.

All resources can be downloaded and used without Internet connection and every resource and activity is also included in specially designed workbooks. These features allow users complete flexibility in how they choose to teach and engage with the learning materials within this platform. A lesson planning document and ‘How to Use’ instructional film is also included to enhance understanding and provide further support to educators and learners.

Inspiring change through women’s stories
As a group of researchers, activists and communicators with hubs based in Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia and West Africa, Pathways members have tried to trace the hidden as well as the well-worn journeys of women’s empowerment. Well-worn journeys such as the importance of education, political voice and economic empowerment, and those more hidden such as the significance of pleasure and leisure and religion. One of the main guides of our work has been to give space for women’s own voices – to show how women are experiencing empowerment and disempowerment in their own lives. We have developed this platform with the aim of showing these stories to a wide audience through engaging visual resources.

The platform combines the use of case studies from nine countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Sierra Leone – with a wide selection of resources designed to engage and incite debate:

With these resources we aim to influence a new generation of policy makers, activists and academics around issues of gender equality.

Our hope for the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment learning platform is that by offering flexible learning materials it will inspire a radical shift in policy and practice. Inspiring change on International Women’s Day and beyond.

Natalie Jeffers is an IDS/School of Global Studies Climate Change and Development Msc Alumni, principal developer of the Pathways Learning Platform and director of Matters of the Earth, a company which specialises in the re-purposing of research for new audiences.

Jenny Edwards is the Programme Officer for the Pathways to Women’s Empowerment Programme, based at IDS. 

Pathways of Women’s Empowerment is a research and communication programme which seeks to discover where women are achieving real gains despite or because of policy and practice. It looks at how this has happened, and aims to make these pathways visible so that we can build on these revealed successes. By involving policy actors and practitioners directly in what we are learning, through action research and through innovative communications methods, we hope that our work can in itself become a catalyst of change.


The Development Prison: escaping gender, LGBT and sexuality silos

04/03/2014

Stephen_Wood200Stephen Wood

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a live Guardian Development panel discussion on sexuality and development issues. It was a fascinating experience, bringing a rich set of mainly Southern voices to bear on a wide-ranging set of topics.

What became apparent throughout the discussions were that two issues are beginning to gain traction amongst those operating within this field: the risk that many facets of sexuality advocacy may be drowned out due to a focus upon LGBT rights and the retreat into a silo mentality by those working on gender and sexuality.

In these past few weeks, the frenetic pace of sexual rights activism has cranked up a notch – the obvious homophobic developments in Uganda, Nigeria and Russia, but also continual attacks on abortion, sex workers rights and women’s bodily autonomy. For those active in these movements, the sheer intensity of keeping up with and showing solidarity is a strain in itself, making it incredibly difficult to look outside of our backyards into the concerns of others outside our narrow area of expertise.

Considering the current climate, it isn’t surprising that minds currently race immediately to global LGBT rights when we talk about sexuality and development. The Ugandan Anti-Pornography Bill passed in December 2013, which risks criminalising women wearing mini-skirts or dressing in an ‘immoral’ way, received much less coverage or international condemnation than the reviled Anti-Gay Bill passed last month.

As a gay man, working to amplify the voices of LGBTI colleagues working in the Global South is an essential part of what gets me up to work in the morning, but sexuality is much broader than that. That is why the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme works hard to build intersections and alliances between very different groups, convening conversations that broaden people’s conception of sexuality and it’s relevance over many seemingly unconnected areas of the development world.

Limitations of LGBT identity politics

LGBT is a particularly Western term that whilst makes sense for a lot of people globally, can also fail to speak to the realities of people’s lives in many contexts. We need to problematise it, whilst hanging on to it for where it is politically useful or speaks to peoples experiences. Where development interventions use this framing as a mechanism by which citizens access rights or services, we run the risk of imposing an identity politics upon cultures that could be incredibly unhelpful to some.

The other note of caution is that LGBT rights are a particularly trendy topic at the moment with media attention and (in some cases) development funding available right now to engage with it. The wheel will turn, Governments will change and priorities shift – and unless LGBT movements for progressive change build common cause across these debates to identify allies – the funding and energy will eventually shift in other directions, potentially to less aligned beneficiaries.

Placing LGBT at the centre of sexuality issues also poses political problems for others within the field. There is a sense that it is creating discord amongst development professionals who work upon it by shutting down wider debate on issues around sex education, reproductive and sex work by association, where the assumption is given that sexuality is code for LGBT equality.

Consequently, conservative voices are using this a defensive position to argue against efforts to reform other crucial areas of sexual rights, such as education, access to services or spousal consent laws. More nuanced strategising between social movements is needed to avoid these attempts to divide and conquer.

Breaking the glass walls dividing gender and sexuality

Rightly, with equality for women and girls so far away from being a reality in many (if not all) parts of the world, there can be an understandable concern that bringing sexuality, including LGBTI people, into conversations around gender equality will mean hard choices around resources and that women will be the losers in that debate.

The cold reality is that these divisions may be due to NGOs being dependent on bilateral or international funding, so the silo mentalities we are witnessing could be a scramble to differentiate oneself for limited resources. As I’ve written recently, even within the fledgling LGBTI aid industry, there are unhealthy hierarchies of priority between groups that mitigate against collaboration.

Yet within gender research and advocacy, an essentialist, binary view of gender can still hold sway, ignoring the reality that oppression of sexual minorities very often stems from a visceral dislike of those who trouble their world-view of immutable gender roles. Within the development world, it often remains unspoken amongst donor agencies and practitioners that aid should be focussed on the ‘deserving poor’, those whose lives and choices do not challenge dominant moral codes. For all the focus upon conservative voices blocking progressive change in aid recipient countries, the mirror is rarely held up to confront the instances of judgemental and heteronormative behaviour from development professionals.

Consequently, gender work often focuses upon the empowerment of particular groups of heterosexual women, rendering invisible those who don’t subscribe to specific gender scripts, ignores the transformative possibilities of working with men, let alone transgender and gender-variant people. We need to re-open dialogue amongst those working on gender about the possibilities for deepened alliances and challenge some of these unspoken undercurrents and exclusions.

What can be done?

Voices need to be heard from NGOs on the ground to engage in and influence the evolving strategies of funding organisations, governments and philanthropic donors. Collectively, we need to ensure that mechanisms for support are developed in a way that discourages silo thinking, encourages self-reflexivity around gender identity and sexuality and places intersectionality front and centre. I’ve spoken to senior staff within funding agencies who bemoan the lack of lobbying coming from the grassroots – it doesn’t hurt to remember that we are not just recipients, we are key stakeholders they need and want to listen to.

IDS strives to ensure that our Sexuality and Development Programme avoids some of these problems by placing intersectionality at the heart of what we do:  building projects, alliances and campaigns that make those connections central to the process as well as the outcome. In much the same way as gender mainstreaming has sought to assess the impact of public policy upon women and men and catalyse fresh collaborations, we also seek to identify fresh entry points for sexuality engagement in issues such as housing, social insurance, education and poverty.

To point to specifics, our current DFID-funded programme on the links between sexuality and poverty has produced a synthesis report written by Kate Hawkins, myself and our partners, published this week, which gives an excellent snapshot of how consideration of gender and sexuality within the production of poverty-reduction policies are intimately connected.

Colleagues across IDS recently held a major meeting called “Undressing Patriarchy” which brought together development practitioners, activists, policymakers and researchers working across gender justice, feminist movements, men’s movements, LGBTI and sex worker groups to take time to re-interrogate what patriarchy means for our movements and activisms and to identify bridging activities we can take forward to tackle it.

At a time when resources are scarce, where gender and sexual rights movements are struggling to respond to fast moving and at times dangerous political contexts, it is a lot to ask for an investment in engagement with what many view as tangential issues. Yet at their core, gender, sexuality and LGBTI activists are part of a wider movement to safeguard pluralism and human rights and it is only through making common cause can we ensure that these issues remain firmly at the centre of mainstream social and policy agendas.

Stephen Wood is a Research Officer on the Sexuality and Development Programme within the Participation, Power and Social Change research team at IDS. He can be found on Twitter as: StephenWood_UK

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Sex and the Citadel: Shereen El Feki on the evolution of sexual rights in the Arab World

27/02/2014

Kate HawkinsKate Hawkins

This week Sussex University’s Amnesty International society hosted a fascinating event on sexuality, the Middle East and North African regions where we were lucky enough to hear Shereen El Feki speak. Shereen was previously a journalist at the Economist. But she wears many hats, having been Vice-Chair of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, a presenter at Al Jazeera, and a board member of AFE, an NGO based in Beirut which empowers human rights activists across the Arab region. Most recently, her book Sex and the Citadel has been causing quite a stir – focussing as it does on two explosive topics, sex and the Arab World – and is currently being translated into a range of languages, including Arabic.

Shereen’s background
Shereen explained that it was her personal and professional roots that led her to write Sex and the Citadel. Half Egyptian and half Welsh, she grew up in Canada as a Muslim but felt quite disconnected from her roots in the Arab World until September the 11th 2001. Suddenly there was an outpouring of coverage in the West about the place her father heralded from, mostly from outsiders, and she felt it was time to ‘re-orient’ herself. Her professional training was in immunology and she then went on to become a journalist writing about health care, particularly HIV. Sex is the main route of transmission of HIV in the Arab World and that region has one of the fastest rates of new cases of HIV and AIDS-related deaths.

Shereen recounted how she had little trouble getting people to start talking about sex, in fact it was sometimes difficult to get them to stop! Poorer people were more free and frank, leading her to conclude that education doesn’t necessarily make you more open-minded. Perhaps it makes you more mindful of everything you have to lose. Because she looked Western, yet was a Muslim and spoke Arabic women were comfortable talking to her. Whilst people tend to avoid speaking to people outside their social circle for fear of being judged, the fact that Shereen was from the West – an area of the world where everything seemingly goes – meant people had little fear of shocking her.

‘What happens in the bedroom is reflective of what happens outside it’
Shereen’s study led her to believe that sexuality is a useful lens for viewing society as a whole. Whilst the Arab World is not homogenous, there are general themes and taboos that run across the region. How these came into being, how they are perpetuated and challenged provides useful insights into politics and the process of change,

‘The sexual and the political are intimate bedfellows. We can’t have freedom unless we think about our family, personal and intimate lives. Many women understood that immediately. That bodily autonomy is not my family’s business it is my own business.’

Her book uses the metaphor of ‘The Citadel’. The Citadel which is an impenetrable, imposing medieval fortress in Cairo which was constructed by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn to protect the city from Crusaders. It has played an important political and religious role in Egyptian life since that time. The Citadel in contemporary Arab life is marriage – recognised by family and the state. Marriage is the only acceptable place for sex to occur and it is an institution many are desperate to be part of, yet a growing number of people no longer fit into this institution, or find it difficult to access.

The process of change
For all the uprisings in the region, Shereen cautioned the audience to expect evolution rather than revolution when it comes to sexual rights. She provided an anecdote about Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, an Egyptian woman who became infamous as the ‘Nude Photo Revolutionary’ for posting naked pictures of herself online. To some, her unveiling had a political spin that matched the spirit of the uprising. The response of religious conservatives was fire and brimstone. But many young liberals at the vanguard of the revolution disowned her actions, and some actually took her to court. Shereen cited this as evidence that even among the young and politically questioning sexual rights are seen as a Western invention, or imposition, which will lead to free love, prostitution, porn and homosexuality.

Other changes include a growing awareness of, and backlash against, harassment and violence against women, particularly in the light of attacks that happened in Tahir Square. Whilst a UN report, published in 2013 a found that 99.3% of women and girls are subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt, due to rising conservatism and insecurity, young women and men are protecting each other in new ways. The hostile environment has also prompted women to speak out in ways which they wouldn’t have previously.

Shereen explained how patriarchy, or more precisely the mix of power and sex in an authoritarian and patriarchal system is to blame for rising tides of violence. Patriarchy affects young men too. There is a great burden of expectation on men around marriage and providing for their family, and yet due to the worsening economic and employment situation the age of marriage is rising because many cannot afford this commitment. In these circumstances how do you realise your masculinity and attain manhood? Many young men are in a suspended state of adolescence, still living at home with their parents. To assert themselves they lash out at those weaker than themselves, in this case often women.

Meanwhile dogmatic Islam has created entrenched ideas about the proper place of women. The policing of women’s mobility (and activities such as sport, using tampons or riding a bike), female genital mutilation, virginity testing, and hymen repair operations are all related to the need to preserve women’s virginity so that they can enter the Citadel of marriage. And it is an institution that the majority of people want to break into, given there are few, if any, other ‘legitimate’ sites for sexual activity.

Why this analysis is timely and important for the rest of the world
In many settings the ‘sexual rights as human rights’ approach to sexuality has been met with resistance by who see it as a foreign or ‘Western’ imposition which lies at odds with ‘traditional culture’. Indeed this debate has risen again in Uganda this week with the signing of the ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’ and President Museveni’s warning,

‘I advise friends from the West not to make this an issue because if they make it an issue the more they will lose,” he said. “This is social imperialism. To impose social values of one group on our society. “I would advise Western countries, this is a no-go area,” he said. “I don’t mind being in a collision course with the West. I am prepared.’

Whilst sexual rights are a vital framing for these issues there are other ways of approaching sexuality which might be fruitful too. Shereen’s entry points for the discussion of sexuality were more medically focussed, as a way of opening a wider conversation. Of course, HIV has often been a starting point for discussions of sexuality and this approach is not without its critics. But its utility is worth noting in this case.

She also is clear that the Arab World is evolving its own vision of sexual freedom which is unlikely to look anything like a Western model. Understanding how different models of freedom are evolving by listening closely to people experiencing this flux, rather than advocating for a blue-print approach to change tied to the Western model, is clearly important.

In addition, this politics of sexuality does not only focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans identities (important as those are). Women’s desires, freedoms, challenges and triumphs are central to the analysis, which recognises that all people are effected by norms related to sexuality. I think this is enormously important for linking across social movements and interest groups and forging a wider coalition of people to press for change, which has been one of the underlying principles of the Sexuality and Development Programme at IDS since its inception. It is also important because a vision of a socially and sexually just world that doesn’t take account of gender inequality more broadly would fail to recognise and challenge law and policy that leads to women being married to the men who rape them; sterilised because they are HIV positive; arrested or harassed for wearing a mini skirt or trousers, left without a penny as widows, deprived of basic citizenship rights for selling sex. It is a world in which we would all be poorer.

Read previous blog posts by Kate Hawkins


Myth and Reality: New Alliances to Challenge Stereotypes and Build Gender Equality Beyond 2015 – join us for this event

20/02/2014

Kate HawkinsKate Hawkins

All over the world women’s rights activists, gender experts, donors, government representatives, and UN staffers are gearing up for this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which will take place from the 10 to 21 March in New York. This year’s theme is ‘Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls‘: A timely topic that suggests there is still a little time for some reflection and learning, in the midst of the clamour of advocacy to shape the post-2015 agenda.

Where we’ve gone wrong
Whilst there are a multiplicity of opinions about how the MDGs may have supported or undermined the push for gender equality, some central strands of argument stand out:

  1. They failed to build on the progressive thinking and consensus building that occurred in order to construct the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 1994 and the Beijing Platform for Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women, 1995. This progress took us from the abstract instrumentalism of ‘women in development’ to seeing ‘gender and development’ as social relations of power and (in/) justice.
  2. At their creation the MDGs did not include a goal or target that explicitly dealt with sexual and reproductive health and rights, but mainly saw women in their stereotypical role as mothers and carers of children. Whilst the World Summit in 2005 recommended the integration of the goals from the ICPD into the MDG monitoring framework their initial omission probably set back action on maternal health over the longer term and meant some issues like sexual rights and access to safe abortion were side-lined.
  3. Within the Goals women were framed as individual agents of economic growth and development, hence the focus on improving access to education, literacy rates and employment. Yet, they did not tackle the potentially negative aspects of fiscal policy, the discrimination and abuse that can be experienced within waged work, nor did they tackle the incredible, soul-sapping, back-breaking burden of unpaid care which women throughout the world shoulder disproportionately.
  4. The framework said nothing about how the world should tackle underlying systems which shape and perpetuate intersecting inequalities in different settings. How human rights might be part of the solution and how we go beyond improving average outcomes to a focus on the most neglected and marginalised amongst us. They say little about power and its workings or paint a picture of a world which is transformed through a new approach to gender.
  5. The MDGs fail to acknowledge the importance of women’s participation (beyond in parliaments), their social movements and their organisations in furthering gender equality and broader social change, let alone what role men might play in the struggle for gender equality.

Working together for change
Calls for a stand-alone goal and the integration of gender throughout the post-2015 consensus are growing in strength. Many are thinking about how these might be operationalised. As part of this process colleagues from IDS will be holding a roundtable at the CSW which will explore the steps we need to take to create strong and sustainable alliances to influence global policy processes, to challenge the myths and expose the reality of gender inequality worldwide. The meeting is part of the Gender, Power and Sexuality Programme, funded by Sida, and is a follow-up event to a multi-stakeholder roundtable held by IDS and SDC at CSW in 2013 on the need to put gender at the heart of the post 2015 agenda. It promises to be a lively and cutting-edge event which will highlight thinking which doesn’t normally find expression in mainstream CSW debates.

Join us in New York – or online
Attend and hear how  patriarchy and its relation to intersecting forms of oppression – linked to sexuality, (dis)ability, race, class, ethnicity and nationality – hinder progress on social justice. Debate with panellists what role men’s movements have in gender equality; particularly in tackling gender-based violence and equalising the distribution of care responsibilities. Explore how attitudes, behaviours, and stereotypes about women – both conscious and unconscious – prevent wider social movements from taking gender equality seriously.

This is an event which responds to a desire for change and new ways of looking at the world and how we come together, in partnership and dialogue to build something better. In the words of my colleague Jerker Edstrom,

’We need to think outside the box, to link across social movements to highlight these issues. Many of us recognise the underlying structures of constraint which hold us back, but there is a need to create alliances to make changes in policy and practice which have real resonance.’

Event details
Speakers: Hazel Reeves (writer and women’s rights activist), Gary Barker (Promundo), Jerker Edström (IDS), Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed (IDS) and Mariz Tadros (IDS)
Chair: Andrea Cornwall (University of Sussex)
Date: Wednesday 12 March, 12:30 pm
Venue: The Guild Hall of the Armenian Convention Center, 630 2nd Ave (at 35th Street), NY

If you can’t attend in person, follow us on Twitter #CSW58GPS or follow the proceedings online after the event.

Kate Hawkins is a member of the Sexuality and Development Programme International Advisory Group. She is the Director of Pamoja Communications and recently co-edited Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure.

Read previous blog posts by Kate Hawkins