Friday, March 16, 2012

Men in Women’s Shoes March on International Day of the Woman to Protest Against Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence in Society.

 
Men wearing women high heel shoes
There euphoria was total and  thrilling as men on women high heel shoes stole show at women day celebration in Bamenda. This action according to what we gathered was in a bid to show solidarity for women in Cameroon and to mobilize men to ending violence against women, A Common Future organization mobilized men in the North West Region of Cameroon last March 08, 2012, which was the International Day for the women to walk a km on women's high-heeled shoes at Commercial Avenue, Bamenda.             
A Common Future's immediate action was in urging men to take time off last March 08, 2012 to walk a mile in women's shoes to feel the pinch of gender-based violence. And those who marched felt it: ‘Now I really see what women pass through’, says Derick Chuo, President of the Bamenda Roller Skaters Association and participant at the event. ‘I can now respect my mother, I never know how difficult and challenging it is for women to move on high heeled shoes’, says Divine, a participant at the march. This walk was A Common Future's own response to the UN Secretary General's call to men to be committed to ending violence especially domestic violence against women. The objective of the march was to raise awareness and funds in an effort to curb the rate of domestic violence on women and child theft in Cameroon hospitals as well as sympathize with Vanessa Tchachuoa, the young girl whose child was stolen recently in a Yaoundé hospital.
The men in women's shoes walkathon builds on the initial effort of ‘Walk A Mile in Her Shoes’ and the old saying that 'You can't really understand another person's experience until you've put on her shoes to know where it pinches'. That is why men were asked to show commitment to ending violence against women by putting on a pair of high heeled shoes last March 08, 2012 and join  A Common Future to walk a mile with the more than 50 women groups that turned out for the event at the
Bamenda Commercial Avenue
. ‘I am deeply surprised and excited with your level of commitment’, says Judith Abong, Northwest Regional Delegate for Women Empowerment and the Family, after the march. By doing this we are all going to help end violence against women in this region noted for its aggressive culture toward women. We seek partnership and collaboration with the Roller Skaters Association and Vegas Family Foundation for the event. Vegas Family Foundation proudly provided the shoes and transportation to and fro the event site.  We would want to reach out to other foundations and individuals for the upcoming Brides March and Men’s walkathon in November for the 16 Days of Activism.
In addition to empowering women and girls to protect themselves, A Common Future's activities in the coming years will address sources and perpetrators of violence whether actual or potential. This requires hands-on engagement with men and boys to help shift attitudes about the use of violence and empower men as responsible agents of social change. Through this kind of outreach, harmful societal norms can be challenged and a healthier construction of masculinities- which does not subjugate women-can be created.

A Common Future recognizes that while men remain the primary perpetrators of violence against women, they also need to be central to the solution to ending it, as Ban Ki Moon, UNSG declared at the launch of a Network of Men Leaders in 2009. After the walkathon, a men's programme with the objective of carrying out intensive gender-sensitive training for men shall be launched. Role model and mentorship programmes for boys in schools and colleges as well as engaging men in community development issues that include sexual and reproductive health and climate change programmes shall be intensified.

Created in 2007, A Common Future works with men and women in ending violence against women, girls and children, by proposing alternative models of masculinities that are not necessarily in opposition to models of femininity and that allow men and women as well as boys and girls to share love, decision making and reproductive health responsibilities.

For further information and for a complete plan of activities and others view our website at www.freetocharities.org.uk/acf.

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