MIA, Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas, is hosting a Delegation to Guatemala, for men only, June 11th-18th!
Background Information: Fear of Feminism
“Feminism is an attack on social practices and habits of thought that keep women and men boxed into gender roles that are harmful to all.” – Robert Webb
Many men – and women – shy away from labeling themselves as feminists and consider ‘feminism’ a dirty word. Indeed, to some, ‘feminism’ conjures up notions of women who despise men and seek to castrate and annihilate male existence. But feminism, at its core, is the simple acknowledgement that societal power hierarchies force women to be inferior to men, and the simple belief that we should work for gender equality by striving to dismantle these power structures.
In Guatemala, the concept machismo, which can be defined as a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness and an assumptive attitude that virility, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes of masculinity, is deeply entrenched in practically all aspects of society. We can consider machismo to be the opposite of feminism, and Guatemalan machismo permits men to behave in the home, workplace, school, and street with impunity. According to a 2015 investigation and report by InSightCrime, 7 out of 10 countries with the highest female murder rate in the world are in Latin America, and Guatemala ranks 3rd in Latin America and in the world.
MIA, Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas seeks to dismantle Guatemala’s machismo through preventive education methods that incorporate didactic material. MIA trains women, men, girls, boys, and adolescents, but is particularly focused on working with men. Whereas the majority of Guatemalan women’s rights organizations provides attention only to women, and effectively erases men from the equation, MIA views men as allies and firmly believes that it is impossible to fight against machismo and patriarchy if men are excluded from the fight.
This is why MIA is sponsoring an All-Men Delegation to Guatemala this summer: to educate men from the U.S. about violence against women and work with them to find joint solutions to inequalities between men and women both in Guatemala and the U.S. MIA deeply wishes to weave stronger social connections between the two countries, uniting men across borders, and creating a tolerant, inclusive, pluri-cultural environment that fights for justice and equality within and between the countries.
MIA has always been involving men in the process of ending violence against women. MIA’s past delegations have always included men, but this is the first delegation for men only. The reason behind making the delegation men-only is to emphasize the importance of men being involved in the challenge ot ending patriarchal gender violence. The vast majority of gender violence against women is perpetrated by men, and the end of gender violence will happen when all men understand the role we all have in perpetrating violence and the commitment we need to make to ending it, no matter our backgrounds or which country we come from.
Why a Delegation?
Delegations hosted by international NGOs in their countries of work are effective ways of shedding light on the daily realities in these countries. They contextualize human rights situations and expound on the complexities of these situations, making them more real and tangible to outsiders. Delegations facilitate mutually-beneficial outcomes for both the delegates and for the individuals and groups who are visited. There is a reciprocal relationship for all parties involved, including a cultural exchange of ideas, understandings, beliefs, and approaches to solution-based issues and problems.
MIA led two delegations per year between 2007 and 2010 to raise awareness of the challenges of gender-based violence in Guatemala. Since 2010, MIA has mostly been focusing on preventive education work within Guatemala, and less on building bridges between the U.S. and Guatemala. However, it is time to re-examine cross-cultural ties, especially in light of what occurred at Hogar Seguro on March 8th. You can read about the tragedy here:
The Story Behind the Fire That Killed Forty Teen-Age Girls in a Guatemalan Children’s Home, the New Yorker Magazine. (Also, my previous blog post discussed the event.)
Delegates have reported feeling transformed and that their horizons have been expanded in terms of their understanding about the Guatemalan context. They are often inspired to advocate on behalf of Guatemala after participating in the delegations. Moreover, the individuals and groups with whom we meet report that seeing North Americans and other foreigners taking an interest in Guatemala gives them hope and inspiration to continue their difficult, grass-roots, on-the-ground work. It is not simply important that the Guatemalans fighting for human rights and women’s rights feel listened to, heard, and supported; it is necessary in order for them to be empowered enough to keep up the fight.
This year’s delegation seeks to unite Guatemala and U.S. men to learn more about and work to end gender-based violence. The title of the delegation is: Challenging Toxic Masculinity in Guatemala and Everywhere: A Delegation for Men Against Gender Violence. Gender violence in Guatemala is at epidemic levels and, as aforementioned, the country ranks third in killings of women worldwide. During the Delegation, delegates will meet with indigenous leaders, women human rights movement groups, women in Congress and presidential staff, White Ribbon Campaign graduates and LGBTQI organizations. They will be able to bear witness, actively participate, and experience first-hand the factors that contribute to violence in Guatemala and ways to help as an outsider.
This delegation will provide an innovative, in-depth experience and is ideal both for those who have been to Guatemala before and know about the country’s context, and for those who have little experience or knowledge about Guatemala.
We hope that you can join us, and if not, that you can help spread the word and help us raise funds to cover the costs of hosting the Delegation. Here is the delegation flyer:
For more information, you can contact Chris Hill, MIA’s secretary, at email@example.com or (562)-900-7969.