Argentinian men have joined the fight for gender equality, after more men than women attended a meeting to sign the “commitment of equality” pledging the issue is not just a “woman’s thing.”
The Buenos Aires meeting was organised by the Men for Equality (HxI) network, which launched last year with the aim of generating space to “incorporate all men who promote gender equality and the prevention of violence against women, and achieve the commitment to carry out actions to that end in their areas of influence and/or workplaces.”
The United Nations in Argentina and the government’s National Women’s Council are behind the network along with private organisations the Avon Foundation and the local branch of the French multinational retailer Carrefour.
The document attendees signed states: “I commit to making a daily personal evaluation of my behavior and attitudes, to avoid reproducing the prejudices and stereotypes that sustain systematic discrimination towards women and keep them from enjoying their rights in equal conditions with men.”
Male representatives from the government, the judicial system, the business community, academia and social movements attended the meeting.
The president of the National Women’s Council, Mariana Gras told the news agency Inter Press Service (IPS): “The meetings are always made up of women. When we talk to different authorities or leaders and say we’re planning a meeting on gender equality, they say: ‘I’ll send the girls’. Men feel uncomfortable, they make jokes, and prefer not to go to these meetings.”
Addressing the audience at the meeting she said: “’Machismo’ is something we all experience in this society, because it forms part of our cultural norms, and marks us all. And it also works the other way: if a man goes to the police station to report that a woman beat him, they tell him ‘don’t be a fag, go and take care of it yourself’.”
Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and Resident Representative of United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) in Argentina, said: “There are no ‘pure’ men, there are no men who haven’t discriminated at some point; it’s something that we men have become aware of little by little, on the public and personal levels, as fathers, as sons, as husbands – of the need to do something ourselves.”
Several businesses in Argentina have recently reviewed policies in support of gender equality and a healthy work/life balance. Three years ago supermarket giant Carrefour launched a diversity programme and since the firm has moved six women into senior management positions.
The company established a rule that at least one woman should be present on candidates lists for managerial positions, and in addition the firm now allows time off for both men and women for children’s birthdays or to attend important meetings at school.