HeForShe: What Role Should Men Play For Women’s Equality?

Posted: September 30, 2014

The HeForShe campaign is being hailed as a new step for gender equality. But can it truly succeed if women depend on men to fight patriarchy? Here’s an interesting take.

With a new vision for gender equality, UN Women’s HeForShe campaign wishes to change the usual state of feminist movements which are attended and supported only by women by seeking to “put men at the centre of activism and dialogue to end persistent inequalities faced by women and girls around the world”.

One thing that stands out in the entire campaign, right from its name, is the positioning of women at the passive end of the spectrum. You have to be a male to join the movement. Only the men attending the conference were extended a formal invitation.

Agreed, true equality can never be achieved without participation and change coming from men, but the elimination of women from the conversation is not a prudent step. The whole concept of self-policing and self-objectifying of women which also propagates the patriarchal culture is not taken care of anywhere in the campaign.

Agreed, true equality can never be achieved without participation and change coming from men, but the elimination of women from the conversation is not a prudent step.

The reason given to join the campaign, directed at men, says, “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation.” It’s like saying you have to be an animal to support the animal rights’ movement. Though the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson does mention that men are also affected by gender inequality, it is safe to say, that most of the time, it favourably affects men.

The HeForShe campaign puts all focus on men to change the state of gender inequality in the world without pushing the women to empower themselves. The UN campaign aims to enrol 100,000 men in the fight for gender equality, while the women are expected to sit and watch the numbers rise in the next 12 months.

As the website says, “Now it’s time to unify our efforts. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other of humanity, for the entirety of humanity.”

Let’s rather unify our efforts by bringing the whole of humanity in support of one-half, for the entirety of humanity. #WeForShe, perhaps?
Otherwise, the male-colonisation of a woman’s mind might continue even after the removal of subjugation, if women are not taught to usurp the patriarchal forces themselves. The efforts of a struggling community is utmost important, and cannot be neglected.

A student of English Literature, Shaifali loves to write, likes to read and enjoys sketching.

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