Tag Archives: Omvärlden

People think I should be more authoritative towards my wife

Article published in Omvärlden
November 23th, 2016
By Rahmina Gambo

Nigeria. 47-year old Samuel Oruruo likes to cook and does not boss his wife around, something that has made many people in his surroundings question his manliness. The patriarchal structures in Nigeria are strong, but things are starting to change, he says.

“I was raised differently from how most Nigerian men are raised. I have five brothers and four sisters, and my mother didn’t treat us differently when it came to household chores; on the contrary she pushed me and my brothers to cook and clean.
In those days I didn’t understand why my mother would do that. I hated household chores, I wanted to hang out with my friends. But with time, I’ve come to realise that she wanted us to grow up to become responsible and capable of doing everything, regardless of our gender.”

Samuel says that when he got married, his in-laws and other relatives thought that he was not masculine enough, as he was not opposed to household chores. It is often women who are his loudest critics, he adds.

Article published in Omvärlden, November 23th 2016. The full article (in Swedish) can be found here: http://www.omvarlden.se/Opinion/kronikor1/manga-tycker-att-jag-borde-vara-mer-auktoritar-mot-min-fru/

I encourage men to buy sanitary pads for their sisters

Article published in OmVärlden
November 22nd, 2016
By Bhrikuti Rai

Nepal. Sabin Singh tries to break old patriarchal patterns by talking to boys and men about menstruation. Women who menstruate are often seen as unclean, and in more traditional areas they can be forced to sleep in cow manure, he says.

“I was first introduced to ideas that question traditional gender roles in Nepal when I was a teenager. In an after school club in the neighbourhood, games were based on themes related to gender roles and the importance of gender equality. Since then, I’ve participated in several programs and projects that aim to encourage gender equality at home and at the workplace. Currently I’m working with the popular Nepalese radio show ‘Saathi Sanga Manka Kura’ (in English: ‘Chatting to my best friend’) which discusses topics about growing up and becoming an adult. Gender roles is a recurring theme.

-‘Period chats with men’ is the initiative that’s affected me the most. It was started by the youth led organisation Yuwalaya in Kathmandu. In most Nepalese families, women and young girls are kept from doing a variety of things when they are on their period because they’re seen as unclean. My family never acted like that. But I also never thought about that it could have anything to do with me as a man.  And I didn’t question the stereotype labelling men as stronger and women as weaker. But after learning about the physical and and emotional impact of menstruation, and about how the stigma surrounding it hinders girls and women, I realised how misleading the established gender stereotypes are.

-Now I’m trying to get other young men and boys to change their views about women. I encourage them to do the simple task of buying sanitary pads for their sisters, mothers and girlfriends as a way of reducing the stigma surrounding menstruation and also show that men view it as something natural”.

Article published in OmVärlden 22/11-16. Full article (in Swedish): http://www.omvarlden.se/Opinion/kronikor1/jag-uppmanar-man-att-kopa-bindor-till-sina-systrar/

A macho man is like an alcoholic

Article published in OmVärlden
21 November 2016
By Álex Ayala Ugarte

Bolivia. Javier Badani Ruz, 41, grew up in a traditional family and was raised with macho ideas of what a man is supposed to be like. A new job and the birth of his daughters changed everything. But taking off the macho mask is like living like a sober alcoholic, he tells journalist Álex Ayala Ugarte.

“A macho man, to me, is like an alcoholic: He can recover but only if he is capable of becoming aware of his illness. For many years, I had macho traits, and it was like it was in my genes. My dad was a Don Juan his entire life. My mother comes from a very traditional family and took care of everything when I was little: She tidied my room, gave me breakfast in bed, ironed my clothes and really spoiled me.

When I met up with my friends for a drink, we’d always shout vulgar comments as soon as a woman walked past. When men socialise with other men, they often act like a pack of dogs stalking their prey: Everyone goes along with it. But the positive aspect was that I realised that my attitude was awful. And today, when I look at my daughters I feel a pressing need to fight against this. It’s my duty to fight chauvinistic behaviour in my society.

I think the real change came when I started working for Hivos, a dutch organisation that works with topics related to empower women, and also with things like sex work and reproductive rights. Thanks to Hivos I started reading, researching, discussing, and learning. I was introduced to admirable people who taught me the importance of fighting for women’s’ rights and their right to pleasure.

My shift in perspective has led to concrete changes in my day to day life. In social media I try to use a language of inclusion. I no longer tell sexist jokes, and I defend women if someone does something inappropriate. I’ve decided to not socialise with my former friends anymore. To them I’ve become that weirdo that doesn’t laugh at their tits & ass-jokes. My decision was connected to my new views and my change. Once again you can draw a parallel to alcoholism: If an alcoholic wants to be cured, the most important thing is to step away from those friends that drink too much. ”

Article published in OmVärlden, 21 November 2016. Full article (in Swedish) here: http://www.omvarlden.se/Opinion/kronikor1/en-machoman-ar-som-en-alkoholist/

Photo by Patricio Crooker

Zimbabwe’s youth has had enough

Article published in OmVärlden
11 October 2016
By Thelma Chikwanha

Zimbabwe. The older generation has let the younger one down. Now young people are protesting in the streets and on social media to express their frustration with Robert Mugabe’s government. Widespread corruption is one of the reasons – it was recently established that diamond revenue worth £1,5 billion has just disappeared.

For the last three months different movements of upset citizens are protesting in Zimbabwe. The protests started after the young pastor Evan Mawarire’s social media post was shared across the country. Using the hashtag #ThisFlag, he encouraged Zimbabweans to hold the government responsible for the collapsed economy.

Many people are saying that the the widespread corruption is one of the main reasons for the financial decline. A number of young leaders are now demanding that the 92-year old president steps down, seeing it as the only solution to the country’s problems. Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu PF, has been in power since the independence in 1980.

The government’s answer to the protests has been to throw young leaders in low standard prisons and put them on trial for law violations, such as violence in a public space. The situation is so tense that new protests happen every day. In the capital city Harare, tear gas, water cannons, and riot police with batons are now a common sight.

Recently, Linda Masarira from Zimbabwe Activists Alliance was released after three months in prison. She was held in isolation in the male section of Chikurubi’s high security prison after having taken part in protests under the hashtag #Shutdownzim2016. She says she will not let herself be scared by the government’s attempts to quiet voices like hers.

-Us young people have joined the fight with strong beliefs, because the country’s problems largely affect us. There are no jobs and we don’t have access to basic social services like health care. That’s why we’re saying that it can’t go on like this. We don’t believe in a successor from Zanu PF. The only way to solve Zimbabwe’s problems is to remove those responsible for 36 years of failures.

According to Zimbabwe’s census bureau, unemployment figures in the formal sector rose from 84 percent in 2011 to 94,5 percent in 2015. This is what is causing the frustration fuelling the protests, particularly amongst the young people who make up 40 percent of the population. Every year, scores of young Zimbabweans finish their university studies without any possibility of finding work afterwards. Patzon Dzamara from Occupy Africa Unity Square says that people are no longer afraid, and that even torture cannot stop the protest movement.

-Zimbabweans are saying that we’ve had enough and the young people are the ones feeling the situation the most. We are educated but there are no jobs. We have to stand up for what we believe in, because nobody is going to fight for us. Even if we haven’t reached the point where Mugabe throws in the towel, the attitude from the authorities who are responsible for maintaining law and order tells us that they are feeling the pressure and that’s a start.

Full article (in Swedish) published in Omvärlden, 11 Oct 2016: https://www.omvarlden.se/Branschnytt/nyheter-2016/zimbabwes-unga-har-fatt-nog/