Masculinities Mondays: 24th March 2014

Okay, I do realise that it’s no longer Monday in any part of the world now – and, in some places, it’s already Wednesday – but it’s the thought that counts. So cast your mind back to Monday and enjoy this edition of Masculinities Mondays.

This week, Mariz Tadros, a former professor of mine, published a poignant piece in The Guardian about the need to bring gender activism into the mainstream and out of elitist workshops and meetings in five-star hotels. These current forums for discussions of gender and development, she argues, take the teeth out of gender activism and further ghettoise women’s rights. Certainly, both while studying Gender and Development and while working in this field in the UN, the consistent sidelining of gender work as a ‘fluffy’ and unacademic area or, simply, as just a ‘women’s issue’ has been painfully apparent. But, in addition to this externally-enforced sidelining, Tadros also discusses the self-imposed sidelining of gender and development practitioners in the elitist settings and inaccessible jargon of their meetings. She writes, “Without de-ghettoising women’s issues, we will remain in a closed space where we miss out on potentially innovative approaches and practices endorsing gender equality.”

Also in the news this week was an article on Aljazeera by Sarah Kendzior about the gender- (and money)-gap in US foreign policy. Kendzior speaks to the invisibility and devaluing of knowledge produced by women in this field. “People talk about the glass ceiling, but it is really a glass box. Everyone can see you struggling to move. There is an echo in the glass box as your voice fails to carry. You want to talk about it, but that runs the risk of making all people hear.” The article also discusses the elitist policies and practices that make this field largely inaccessible to people of lower socio-economic backgrounds.  Having been an unpaid UN intern in Geneva for six months, this point resonated with me. A few of my fellow interns and I made a petition for the UN to provide some kind of living subsidy for interns of low-income backgrounds (which was not us) to ensure that the internship program reflected the UN values of diversity, inclusion and empowerment. Although many staff supported our campaign, our petition was ultimately rejected by people who informed us there was no space in the budget and then got into their BMWs and drove to their homes on Lac Leman. 

And, finally, the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) wrapped up last week and AWID hosted a CSW Special Focus to follow the event. 

Here’s to a gender-equitable week ahead!

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