Violence Against Women (VAW) is largely deemed as a women’s issue to be tackled by women and for women. However, VAW has a negative impact on entire communities and societies and is therefore impossible to eradicate without having men and boys on board efforts to do so. For this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign, we present our second edition of ’16 Male Role Models Helping to Stop Violence Against Women’ which features a diverse list of men who are doing their bit towards a more gender-equal world.
The men in this list believe that ending VAW is a fight and issue that should involve everyone and not just women. Many of these men are activists who have recognised that toxic masculinity and patriarchy are harmful to young boys and men. They are working directly with boys and men to empower them in order to prevent VAW from the roots. The list also looks at men who have spoken up against VAW through various mediums like demonstrations and music, using their voice to show their solidarity and bring issues of gender-based violence to the forefront. In this post-Weinstein world where so many prominent men have been revealed as domestic abusers and sexual predators, we hope our second edition of 16 male role models against violence against women will provide living examples of positive masculinity that inspire and galvanise men and boys worldwide to become a part of the solution.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
Note: Information for all role model profiles is sourced via online research and is based on one or more news sources, articles and/or The Pixel Project’s own interviews with them. The main articles/reports from which these profiles have been sourced can be directly accessed via the hyperlinked titles. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable men.
Written, researched, and compiled by Rubina Singh.
Male Role Model #1: Ahmed Hegab – Egypt
After witnessing a young woman being assaulted by a mob of men on the street, Ahmed Hegab knew he had to do something. Speaking to USA Today, Ahmed shares, “I decided right there and then to quit my job and do everything I could to stop harassment.” Ahmed started volunteering with Harassmap and also started Men Engage, a program that trains men to stop gender-based violence and raise their voices for women’s empowerment.
Male Role Model #2: Ali Erkazan – Turkey
After the murder and attempted rape of a university student, Ali Erkazan, a Turkish actor, along with a number of other men expressed their anger through a public demonstration. The men dressed in mini-skirts to show their solidarity and demanded harsher punishment for VAW. Demanding stricter laws, Ali shares, “The absence of deterrent laws encourages them. Even the people in the government make incentive statements about the inequality of men and women under the name of Islam. We also condemn them.”
Male Role Model #3: Chris Green – United Kingdom
Chris Green is the Director of the White Ribbon Campaign in the UK. The White Ribbon Campaign encourages men and boys to speak up against VAW. Chris is also a member of the UK End Violence Against Women Expert Advisory Group and the End Violence against Women Prevention Working Party. For his notable efforts, Chris has been awarded one of the highest honours in the UK – Order of the British Empire.
Male Role Model #4: Dean Peacock – South Africa
Ashoka fellow Dean Peacock is challenging gender inequality in South Africa by engaging men and boys in the fight against VAW. Dean is the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Sonke Gender Justice Network, which works to strengthen government, civil society and citizen capacity to support men and boys to take action to promote gender equality, prevent domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS. Dean is also the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the MenEngage Alliance and a member of the UN Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders.
Male Role Model #5: Dr. Ganesh Rakh – India
In a country where girls face GBV even before they are born, Dr. Ganesh Rakh is doing his part to ensure that girls at least get a fighting chance. Noting the high rate of female feticide and infanticide, Ganesh initiated a campaign “Mulgi Vachva Abhiyan” (Save the Girl Child) in his city. While most doctors increase their fees over time, Ganesh decided that he would not charge any fee from the family if a girl child was born. Not only that, his hospital also celebrates the birth of every girl child. His ultimate aim: “I want to change attitudes – of people, doctors. The day people start celebrating a daughter’s birth, I’ll start charging my fee again.”
Male Role Model #6: Edgar Ramirez – Venezuela
Edgar Ramirez is an actor, producer, and activist from Venezuela. As a HeForShe advocate, he spoke about the impact that gender inequality has on boys and men, “In the journey for equality, women and men are like two strands of DNA wrapped together in an embrace. Our burdens are as intertwined as our common destiny. The constraints that burden me will eventually burden you. And the same is true in reverse: as long as you are burdened, I am too. By recognizing this inter-dependence, I can work for your well-being and know that I am also working towards my own. I can know that whatever action I take to free you, also frees me. This is not just what makes us human. This is what makes us a human family.”
Male Role Model #7: Fang Gang – China
Fang Gang is the Director of the Institute of Sexuality and Gender Study at the Beijing Forestry University. He is also the Director of the China White Ribbon Volunteers Network. Through his work, Fang Gang is attempting to reduce the taboo around sexuality, and challenge accepted norms of masculinity in China. Sharing his views in an interview with Vice, Fang said, “I want to encourage men to be involved in promoting gender equality, including taking care of children, sharing housework, and fighting against job discrimination. In the past our work focused on people who committed violence and their victims, now we want to go back further and target regular people, asking what we should do to prevent men from committing violence in the first place.”
Male Role Model #8: Feđa Mehmedović – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Feđa Mehmedović is the Project Coordinator with the XY Association and winner of a competition promoting gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stories of Real Men. Hecworks with men and boys to change their attitude and behaviour towards VAW. He has trained more than 10,000 young people as part of his Young Men as Allies programme in preventing violence against women. Feđa is also an advocate for the UN HeForShe campaign.
Male Role Model #9: Gary Barker – Brazil
Involving men and boys in the fight against VAW is imperative and Gary Barker has been doing just that through his organisation, Promundo. His work has been recognised by organisations such as Ashoka and the United Nations. Explaining the philosophy behind Promundo, Gary shared the following insights in an interview: “We believed, from our direct experiences in working in violence prevention in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that we would only end violence and achieve equality if we engaged men as allies, as voices for change, and as activists in the process. We were also inspired by young and adult men who wanted to be part of the movement and who were already living out equitable, non-violent ways of being men.”
Male Role Model #10: Jim C. Hines – USA
Jim C. Hines is a Hugo-award winning American Fantasy writer who has been doing his bit to end sexism in the science fiction/fantasy world. He noticed that many science-fiction and fantasy cover art overtly sexualies female characters. In an effort to bring attention to the issue, he decided to contort himself into the various poses that women are put into. But, his efforts go much beyond gender-flipped covers. After he found out about a friend’s rape, he decided to work towards ending VAW in different ways. He has previously worked as a crisis counsellor, written articles and a novel around VAW, and he is also one of the only authors whose website has an entire section dedicated to resources for survivors of rape and sexual assault. Jim has also actively supported The Pixel Project by being a part of our campaigns such as Read for Pixels.
Male Role Model #11: Michael Flood – Australia
Holding a PhD in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Michael Flood researches masculinity and violence prevention. His research indicates that a man’s understanding of masculinity can lead to VAW. In an interview with Huffington Post Australia, he says, “It’s very clear that if we compare the men that do use violence and the men that don’t, one key difference is in their ideas about being a man. Men (who) use violence are much more likely to be invested in the idea to be a man is to be in control, dominant and have power over women. Those ideas about masculinity link to broader patterns of gender inequality. And really, it’s gender inequality that shapes some men’s use of violence against women.”
Male Role Model #12: Noel Cabangon – The Philippines
Music has the power to reach any corner of the world. Noel Cabangon, a Filipino singer and songwriter, used the power of music through his song Men Move to encourage men to “bring all violence against women to an end”. The song was originally written for the Philippine Commission of Women and was later adapted for the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.
Male Role Model #13: Nur Hasyim – Indonesia
While he has been working for women’s rights for many years, in 2006, Nur Hasyim started working towards engaging men and boys to end VAW. He is the founder and head of ‘Aliansi Laki-Laki Baru’ (New Men Alliance) in Indonesia, a national pro-feminist men’s movement. His research in the field has led to the development of a curriculum towards behaviour change for male abusive partners. Recognising his work, Nur has been included by the United Nations in the Secretary General’s Network of Men Leaders.
Male Role Model #14: Ravi Karkara – United States of America and Worldwide
Ravi Karkara is Senior Advisor on Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy to the Assistant Secretary General to the UN and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. Ravi has been fighting to end violence against women since the beginning of his career. Not only is he working with women, he also believes in the importance of working with men to end VAW. Ravi shared his views on working with boys and men in a recent interview: “While we need to teach women and girls how to fight for their human rights, we also need to focus on boys and change their attitudes towards girls and women.”
Male Role Model #15: Salif Keita – Mali
Popularly known as the “Golden Voice of Africa”, Salif Keita has been using his art for activism. A vocal supporter of women’s rights, he has endorsed the UN HeforShe campaign as well. In a message for the campaign, Salif said, “The world is undergoing change and modernization in the right direction, and for every man who recognises the value and role of women, we must be sensitised to act for their well-being.”
Male Role Model #16: William Gay – United States of America
As a young boy, NFL Star William Gay lost his mother because of domestic violence. Having felt the impact of VAW so closely, William understands the need to end VAW. While William found professional success with NFL, he wanted to use his star power to shine a light on gender-based violence. Among many other initiatives, William supports the Women’s Center and Shelter in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He uses his time at the shelter to speak to the survivors and share his story. In an interview with People Magazine, he shared, “I want people out there to know that someone in the NFL has been that child who lost their mother and is willing to do anything to end domestic violence.”
- Ahmed Hegab – from Linkedin.com
- Ali Erkazan – From Alticine.com
- Chris Green – From “Parliaments United In Combating Domestic Violence Against Women” (Council of Europe)
- Dean Peacock – From “Sonke Gender Justice”
- Dr. Ganesh Rakh – From “Ganesh Rakh: The doctor who delivers India’s girls for free” (Anushree Fadnavis/BBC News)
- Edgar Ramirez – From “Edgar Ramirez, Emma Watson use star power to push for gender equality at UN event” (Rob Kim/Fox News)
- Fang Gang – From “Fang Gang: Sex Education Should be Implemented Early” (Chinese Women’s Research Network)
- Feđa Mehmedović – From “Stories of Real Men – Feđa Mehmedović”
- Gary Barker – From “Network of Men Leaders” (UNiTE)
- Jim C. Hines – Courtesy of Jim C. Hines
- Michael Flood – From “Is ‘Engaging Men’ the Game Changer for Gender Equality” (Annual Diversity Debate)
- Noel Cabangon – From “Noel Cabangon ‘inspired’ by Pope Francis visit” (The Philippine Star)
- Nur Hasyim – From “World Press Freedom Day 2017” (UNESCO)
- Ravi Karkara – From “Meet the People Extraordinaire – Ravi Karkara” (Sayfty)
- Salif Keita – From “Salif Keita – The “Golden Voice of Africa”
- William Gay – From NFL star reveals heartbreaking moment he came home from school to discover his mother shot dead by his stepdad in murder-suicide