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Peace Corps Observes International Men’s Day

Buck Buckingham

Buck Buckingham

In much of the developing world, men retain significant authority over many aspects of family and community life. Without men, we don’t have healthy communities. Men frequently control decisions about access to resources that either limit – or expand – access to education, health and social support services for women and girls. Men may – or may not – adopt and model behaviors that safeguard their own health and the health of their partners. Peace Corps employs several strategies that engage men and boys to reduce gender inequalities and promote the health and well-being of women, men, and children. Specifically, Peace Corps responds in two distinctly different ways.

First, male and female Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) work with counterparts to organize a range of programs and events using evidence-based models such as GrassrootSoccer Exit DisclaimerMen as Partners [external_disclaimers], and clubs for in- and out-of-school youth. All of these approaches address male norms as they are forming by promoting healthy behaviors and respect for female peers while also calling attention to behavioral norms that are unhealthy.

Building leadership skills that demonstrate that strength does not require violence helps boys to develop a model for successful relationships and a positive and healthy future. Through mentoring, skills building, positive reinforcement, and advocacy, PCVs help men and boys confront negative stereotypes about what it is to be a man.

These male-focused activities are typically complemented by programs directly focused on women and girls. Hundreds of Volunteers in dozens of countries regularly organize “Girls Leading Our World” (GLOW) camps and similar activities that empower adolescent and young adult females to be conscious of and prepared to respond to male behaviors that may compromise their health and wellbeing. Increasingly, coeducational activities are developed to bring young men and women together in safe and secure settings to promote healthy gender norms as well as respect for the unique and valuable contributions that each can make to improved personal and community health.

Secondly, Peace Corps provides practical information and training to promote responsible behavior by all PCVs to support their own health and wellbeing. This training also emphasizes the extent to which Volunteers are role models for young people in their communities, and the responsibility that comes with this unique community standing. This pre- and in-service training reinforces the contextual risks PCVs need to be aware of to protect their own health such as excessive alcohol consumption or unprotected sex, and promotes a “zero tolerance” approach to any predatory sexual behaviors.

Promoting positive male role models helps all men and boys – and women and girls – live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

Comments

  1. Sasha says:

    I don’t know Buck Buckingham, but while I’m sure this statement means well, it’s actually perpetuating the stance that men are a utility, that they don’t have any innate worth as human beings, they’re only of value if they are serving women.

    Indeed, the overall tone smacks of the usual ‘women HAVE problems, but men ARE problems’ double standard.

    For instance, why should it only be possible to have ‘several strategies that engage men and boys’ if it’s ‘to reduce gender inequalities’? Why not simply help men and boys because, well, men and boys are human too?

    Why should you assume that we need to ‘demonstrate that strength does not require violence’? Most men are not violent. Most men use their strength in positive ways. Did you not watch any footage of men working to repair the recent damage caused by hurricane Sandy in the USA?

    Why ‘address male norms as they are forming by promoting healthy behaviors and respect for female peers’? Again, why is helping men conditional upon helping women? Why do only women matter?

    You say “training reinforces the contextual risks PCVs need to be aware of to protect their own health such as excessive alcohol consumption or unprotected sex, and promotes a “zero tolerance” approach to any predatory sexual behaviors” – what, so men are automatically drunken rapists are they?

    If this is how you mark International Mens Day, then to be frank I’d rather you hadn’t bothered.

  2. AnthonyZarat says:

    Men and boys are the vast majority of victims of violence, the majority of suicides, the majority of the homeless, the majority of victims of mental illness and substance abuse, and globally live 7 years less than women. Given all of these FACTS, it is beyond belief that the only use that the “Peace Corps” can find for international men’s day, is to shame and denigrate men into doing EVEN MORE for women than they already do.

    Shame on this sexist and discriminatory organization. You will NEVER receive one dime of my money.

  3. Mark Neil says:

    Even on a day to talk about boys and men, it has to be discussed in relation to how it benefits women? For all the power and authority men supposedly have, are men seriously not allowed to discuss their own issues outside the framework of feminist rhetoric? Seems some people can only see men as dangerous, violent, controlling and abusive. Vulnerable, abused, manipulated and controlled are not part of the vocabulary. Why am I not surprised at this attempt to co-op the international men’s day for the benefit of women? The boys being constripted into the military before they are even as tall as the guns shoved into their hands, they don’t matter. The boys dressed up as girls and raped because there is punishment for raping girls but not boys, they don’t matter. The hundreds of thousands of men dieing alone on the streets, they don’t matter. The men putting guns in their mouths and pulling the trigger, they don’t matter. what matters is that men aren’t doing enough the other 364 days of the year dedicated to women, we need to co-op this one day for acknowledging men’s issues too, and make it for the benefit of women.

  4. dungone says:

    Thank you to the Peace Corps for demonstrating why it is so very important for there to be an International Men’s Day. I’m looking forward to read what the Peace Corps has to say on March 8th about what women and girls can do to improve the lives of men.

  5. sam says:

    This whole article reads like the Peace Core considers males to be flawed and in need of re-training. There is an ant-male odor that might explain the 60% female to 40% male ratio in the Core. Using International Mens day as a medium to criticize you male volunteers is a shame.

    You use International Womens Day to celebrate your female volunteers and there achievements, and rightly so. Doing the same for the young men who give of their time for the Core I suppose is too much to ask.

  6. EvilPundit says:

    So the US Peace Corps “observes” International Men’s day by shaming and slandering men, and talking about women’s problems?

    It’s rather sexist to attack half the world’s population on the one day that’s meant to celebrate their achievements.

  7. Pam says:

    This is International Men’s Day. I feel we should also celebrate the great contributions that Men have made to the Peace Core over the many years. Well done guys!!

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