Fighting gender stereotypes

2013-06-03 00:00

MEN have to change the way they think.

This was the message sounded at the first meeting of the Men’s Forum for Change (MFC) recently formed at Durban’s Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) in a bid to address gender discrimination and gender-based violence.

The MFC was initiated by Siphelele Zulu, MUT’s senior director of human resources and development, and last week’s meeting was addressed by political analyst and research fellow at the Helen Suzman Foundation, Aubrey Matshiqi, and chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, Mfanozelwe Shozi.

Shozi said everyone has a role to play in eradicating all forms of discrimination, but this must start with an understanding of the problem’s root causes.

According to Matshiqi, gender-based problems are social constructs. “Everything that we are is what our societies have made us to be.”

Matshiqi said it is important for men to understand that society and its centres of power favour men and consequently women suffer, black women especially. “What has been fed into our minds perpetuates the gender stereotypes. During apartheid, blacks were pushed to the periphery because they were deemed to be less important.”

He also criticised the way women are portrayed in the media, which he said was another sign of male bias.

Shozi said despite South Africa having 38 forms of legislation dealing with gender-related discrimination, the problem still persists.

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