• Here’s one way to make the world safer for women

    Today is International Women’s Day. In the U.S., one group is using the occasion to launch a campiagn called Ring the Bell: One million men. One million promises. The campaign calls on “men and boys around the world to promise to take concrete action to address, challenge, and end violence against women.” Here in Canada, the theme for International Women’s Day this year is Working Together: Engaging Men to End Violence against Women.

    This is not a “women’s issue,” but a human issue. Indeed, brand new research from the University of Calgary has identified seven promising areas for engaging men and boys in domestic violence prevention.

    I love what comes first on this list of opportunities: engage fathers. Make it normal for men to care for children. Replace traditional definitions of masculinity with a broader vision. (Read a PDF of the new report here.)

    What does this have to do with women and domestic violence? Lots. “Increased positive father involvement is associated with lower levels of family conflict and violence, and increases the chance that children grow up in an emotionally and physically safe environment,” says the United Way-funded report, produced by the university’s Brenda Strafford Chair in the Prevention of Domestic Violence. The report notes that boys with nurturing, involved fathers are less likely to use violence against female partners later in life.

    When dads are actively involved in their kids’ lives, they create a ripple effect that benefits everyone. Life is better for women, it’s better for children and it’s better for fathers too.

    Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go in normalizing fathers as involved parents. It’s common to see media stories that explore how female business leaders and politicians balance work and children — recall the recent furor over Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s parenting choices — but there is a dearth of similar commentary about men. (A welcome exception is this excellent story in today’s Globe and Mail: Why the stigma of being a hands-on dad lingers.) It’s still widely assumed that a father’s role in life is primarily to work, and it’s up to mothers to negotiate the tricky balancing act of raising children and having a career. It’s total nonsense — but persistent nonsense.

    Less than a year ago, I was a stay-at-home dad with my two young children. At times it was immensely frustrating, but I would always remind myself that I was making a meaningful investment in their lives. At times it was difficult to understand what that investment was, exactly. I’m so glad United Way is partnering with the University of Calgary for this groundbreaking research (and there’s more coming soon; this report is only the first part of a new initiative called Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence).

    The research confirms what many fathers hope: parenting with empathy and intentionality creates a safer world for women, a healthier world for children, and ultimately, a better world for all of us.

    — Jeremy Klaszus is a Communications Advisor with United Way of Calgary and Area.

    What steps can you take to end violence against women? Visit the Ring the Bell website for ideas, and share your thoughts below.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

4 Responsesso far.

  1. Jeremy K. says:

    Here’s some more information on the new research. From the report:

    Although research in this area is emergent, the authors identified seven promising areas for engaging men and boys in domestic violence prevention. These appeared most consistently in the literature as areas with potential to effect positive change among males. They are:

    1. Engaging fathers in domestic violence prevention;
    2. Men’s health and domestic violence prevention;
    3. The role of sports and recreation in domestic violence prevention;
    4. The role of the workplace in domestic violence prevention;
    5. The role of peer relationships in domestic violence prevention;
    6. Men as allies in preventing domestic violence; and
    7. Aboriginal healing and domestic violence prevention.

    These areas have been designated as ‘entry points’ that can be strategically leveraged, enhanced and extended to support male engagement around violence prevention.

  2. Joy says:

    Eloquent and powerful Jeremy! While a day like International Women’s Day is a perfect time to highlight the incredible damage domestic violence causes – not just to the woman, but to the children and others who watch helplessly in its wake – this is a message than can’t be shared enough, every day.

  3. Amy Ansell says:

    Beautifully written blog post Jeremy! I absolutely love the research being done around this topic and look forward to seeing what transpires with this new initiative in the future.

  4. Diane says:

    Great Post Jeremy for International Women’s Day. There seems to be some readiness and momentum building to engage men and boys in this work and I am excited. When community leaders “take a stand” when sports teams recognize the importance of including “respect” as part of their training and when corporations value parenting we can expect that attitudes about family violence will change and incidents will decrease. I look forward to hearing more about what transpires from this research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *