Last Friday, we had the chance to try out some of the methods we use in our empowerment workshops ourselves. My internship colleague Yaniv conducted a half day workshop entitled “Masculinity and Feminism” for the whole staff in the office.
So, as the title of one of my last blog posts included “Women Power”, I find it thematically connected to call this one “Men Power”:
The objective for Yaniv was to try out a new concept of men’s empowerment before taking it to the field. This week he and project manager Errachid will conduct the workshop for two days in a village in Al Haouz province. Some months ago, one of the IMAGINE women’s empowerment workshop had taken place in the community and both men and women agreed that there is a big need for such workshops also for men – as peaceful relationships and good communication within families always need to include both wife and husband.
But the concept of the women’s workshops couldn’t just be transferred into a men’s workshop without modification. It needed to be changed and adjusted to meet the special needs of a different target group. The topics and issues of empowerment can be very different for men and women, for example when it comes to pressure in relationships or recognizing and potentially changing from traditional family roles.
The first weeks of the planning process Yaniv just spent reading and exploring the field: “We always have assumptions, so I had to learn what is the situation in reality,” he said.
His short input already made us think a lot about our roles in society and come closer together as a team. In gender equal groups of two or more we discussed what it means for us to be a woman or a man and where this can sometimes be difficult. Afterwards the results were shared and discussed with the whole group.
One exercise which was especially appreciated by many colleagues though was the carful-listening exercise. For two minutes one person had the chance to share a personal story and the partner was just listening without questioning, without judging, without giving advice. It showed us the importance of listening to others and we could feel in practice how beneficial such exercises can be for empowering men as well as women. Workshops like this can be an amazing way to foster peaceful relationships and a better understanding within families, peer-groups or colleagues.