A two-day conference on Gender Equality Male Empowerment School (GEMS) brought together 30 men and 30 in-school adolescent boys, organized by the Department of Gender in the Volta Region, culminated in Ho, with a resounding call for men to wholeheartedly support the women in their lives, leaving behind unnecessary ego and pride.
In his keynote address, the Volta Regional Minister, Dr. Archibald Yao Letsa, emphasized the imperative of men recognizing the pivotal role that women play in both their individual lives and society at large. He stressed the importance of providing women with the care and support they rightfully deserve.
Dr. Archibald Letsa commended the initiative to engage men and boys in discussions surrounding gender issues. He hailed it as a commendable platform that enables boys and men, both from schools and community male groups, to grasp the significance of gender equality, equitable access to education, and career development opportunities for all, regardless of gender. Furthermore, it addresses the detrimental consequences of sexual and gender-based violence on personal, societal, and national development.
“This Gender-Equality Male Empowerment School undoubtedly presents us with an opportunity to nurture a generation of men and boys who will serve as exemplary figures in our communities, offering invaluable support to women, girls, and other vulnerable groups,” remarked Dr. Letsa.
He went on to underscore the conference’s central focus on men who commit to promoting gender equality and upholding the human rights of all individuals, free from discrimination.
Dr. Letsa expressed his wholehearted alignment with the conference theme, “Action for Gender Equality, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for all; Men and Boys as Key Partners,” recognizing it as a well-articulated and thought-provoking message perfectly suited for the occasion.
The Volta Regional Director of Gender, Mrs. Thywill Eyra Kpe, in her welcoming address, emphasized that gender equality transcends being just a goal; it is a prerequisite for tackling poverty, fostering sustainable development, and building a more just and equitable society.
Mrs. Kpe highlighted the inception of the Gender Equality Male Empowerment School, established with support from the UNFPA GPECM, to educate men and boys about gender-related issues, gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), and adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR). The program aims to stimulate open and honest discussions regarding the ramifications of gender inequality, SGBV, and ASRHR on men, women, girls, and societal and national development.
She also noted that the program intends to equip men and boys with the skills to transform gender dynamics, champion positive masculinities, and promote gender equality within their communities. It encourages dialogue with identified male groups on strategies to mobilize their peers to address issues such as gender inequality, adolescent pregnancy, and SGBV within schools and communities.
Mrs. Eyra Thywill Kpe acknowledged that advocacy for gender equality has sometimes been marred by misconceptions, including the erroneous belief that it solely concerns women and that men are adversaries in the fight for gender equality. She stressed that gender equality is an essential step toward developing societies that address the diverse challenges faced by their populations, fostering collective development.
Mrs. Stella Mawusi Mawutor, the Regional Director for the Department of Social Welfare, underscored the impact of societal gender constructs, which often restrict the roles and opportunities available to men and women, leaving many individuals as casualties of these stereotypes. She emphasized that all genders are vital, urging everyone to empower themselves and dispel misconceptions surrounding gender equality.
The conference was organized by the Volta Regional Department of Gender, under the auspices of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council, with support from the UNFPA.
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