During the first few years of the Women’s Liberation Movement decades back, it wasn’t uncommon for men to be portrayed as the victimizers and the oppressors of women. In many patriarchal communities, men have often been singled out as the perpetrators of domestic violence and as the roadblocks to the path of women empowerment.
It is only more recently when developing countries like the Philippines have realized that men are not necessarily a hindrance to gender empowerment. Rather, they can be partners in empowerment and in development.
In the Philippines, an organization called the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women has taken this realization a notch higher, transforming it into something tangible by coming up with a group called Men Opposed to Violence against Women Everywhere (MOVE).
“In our society, the notion that decision-making power rests on men still holds even in basic issues such as reproductive and family health. With their varied roles as husbands, community leaders, religious leaders and political leaders, their informed decision will have direct impact on the advocacies that women are promoting,” said Louie Alonso Belmonte, the information officer of the NCRFW.
Gender empowerment and equality has never been a goal meant to be fought for by one gender. Like all other goals, it takes a collaborative effort to make it work because its effects are generally far-reaching. Tagging men as the victimizers will only serve to antagonize them instead of helping reshape their attitude towards the role of women in society.
“We believe that men should be seen as responsible, caring and non-violent development partners,” Yao said in the same article.