Violence Against Women has always been perceived as a “women’s issue” because of the focus on the institutionalised and normalised violence specifically faced by women and girls in cultures and communities worldwide. When most people think about charities, nonprofits, social enterprises, activists, grassroots leaders and celebrities who work to end VAW, they automatically think about women because women are the focus, and therefore the most visible voices and faces, of the anti-VAW movement.
In recent years however, this paradigm is slowly shifting to recognise that while men constitute the majority of the perpetrators of VAW, they are also key allies to stopping the violence. VAW may have always been seen as a “women’s issue” but it is a human rights issue which impacts everyone in the community regardless of gender. When good non-violent men stand up to say NO to VAW and to take action to prevent, intervene and stop the violent conduct of their male peers, they become internal agents of change through role modelling positive male behaviour as an antidote to the toxic masculinity that drives the patriarchal social structures that create and maintain gender inequality.
At The Pixel Project, one of the major tenets of our vision and mission is to get men and boys on board the movement to end VAW. In line with that mission, we have always worked with men on our campaigns and projects, be they our YouTube Music Ambassador, AHMIR, the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models who gave their time and energy to take part in our upcoming Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign; or the male volunteers who have contributed to getting our campaigns off the ground.
In recognition of the tremendous work that genuine male allies have done as members of the anti-VAW movement and movement for gender equality, we are proud to present our first annual list of 16 male role models that working worldwide to help end VAW.
It truly is 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 or articles. 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 male allies.
Written by Jerica Nonell and Regina Yau; Curated and edited by Regina Yau and Carol Olson.
Anti-VAW Role Model 1: Patrick Stewart – United Kingdom
Though best known for his role in Star Trek, Patrick Stewart is now equally well-known for his activism to stop violence against women. Stewart has repeatedly spoken out publicly about his traumatic childhood watching his mother suffer from domestic violence and the consequences it had on him as a child and later, as an adult man. Stewarts powerful speeches and statements about the importance of speaking out to stop violence against women and children, as well as pointing out the importance of helping abusers reform, have gone viral. He believes that it is impossible for domestic violence to disappear without everyone lending their voices to the cause. Since 2007, Stewart has worked with Refuge, a registered UK charity that provides legal and psychological support to women and children that are survivors of domestic violence. The charity supports more than 1,000 domestic violence survivors.
Anti-VAW Role Model 2: Fahran Akhtar – India
Fahran Akhtar is an active actor, writer, producer, director, and activist from Mumbai, India. He is best known for his 2001 film, “Dil Chahta Hai.” In March of 2013, Akhtar publicly joined the fight for gender equality by creating a social campaign known as Men Against Rape and Discrimination, or MARD. This organisation works to change the minds and behavior of men, in hopes to instill respect towards women and make a profound and lasting change to the society in which we live. Ahktar was moved to begin this campaign after learning about a deadly sexual assault on a female lawyer in Mumbai, and has promoted this campaign through Twitter, as well as during move premieres. Through his efforts, any notable men have joined the cause, including actor Mahesh Babu and cricket player Sachin Tandulkar.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 3: Dr. Denis Mukwege – Democratic Republic of Congo
Doctor Denis Mukwege Mukengere is the founder of the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Unlike other hospitals around the world, Panzi Hospital is renowned for its treatment of women with severe gynecological problems, especially when related to sexual violence. Since Panzi’s inception in 1998, he continues to work as the medical director. He has been awarded many accolades for his work, included UN Human Rights Prize in 2008 and African of the Year in 2009. Alongside his work at the hospital, Dr. Mukwege has spoken with the United Nations General Assembly about the rights of women and sexual violence, and raises awareness via in his travels in Eastern DRC.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 4: Joshua Bailey – United States of America
Joshua Bailey is the co-founder & CEO of The Gray Haven, a non-profit organisation that provides hope and restoration to victims of human trafficking through comprehensive services. Based in Richmond, Virginia, The Gray Haven is the first organisation in Virginia to provide holistic aftercare services and a supportive community specifically for victims of human trafficking. Bailey guest lectures at universities and provides technical assistance and training for professionals in law enforcement, healthcare, mental health, and social services, as well as speaking in churches and other venues about the issue of human trafficking and modern day slavery.
Anti-VAW Role Model 5: Nazir Afzal – United Kingdom
In 2001, Nazir Afzal became England’s first Muslim chief prosecutor, a position that allows him the status of the United Kingdom’s most senior Muslim lawyer. Afzal’s most famous case involved prosecuting one of Princess Diana’s stalkers, but his passion lies with cases involving honour killings and forced marriage, especially when the cases involve minority women. He set up a national hotline to help women and girls that are at risk of forced marriage – one in which the United States hopes to duplicate. Currently, he is working to make forced marriage a punishable crime. One of Afzal’s largest successes involves prosecuting nine men for raping and trafficking girls, charging the men with a variety of sentences, ranging from 12 to 19 years in prison.
Anti-VAW Role Model 6: Kalyan Shrestha – Nepal
Kalyan Shrestha began his career in 1977 as a Judicial Officer in Nepal, working his way towards becoming the first Executive Director of National Judicial Academy in 2004. As of 2005, he became a Supreme Court Justice, a role in which he occupies today. His work in the Supreme Court revolves around improving his country with pronouncements surrounding human rights, gender justice, and juvenile justice, to name a few. Shrestha’s many accomplishments include maintaining the privacy of specialised cases, as well as removing discriminatory legal provisions. His work within the Supreme Court has immensely improved the atmosphere surrounding Nepal and will leave a lasting impression on those that follow in his footsteps.
Anti-VAW Role Model 7: Todd Minerson – Canada
Todd Minerson is the Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women in their communities. Minerson has spent the last 14 years working to get men on board the cause to end violence against women and to educate boys about gender equality. The work that he does include delivering workshops on engaging men in ending violence against women for the UN, as well as working with governments and agencies in Brazil, Austria, Turkey, Cape Verde, and Sri Lanka. He was also one of the co-chairs of the Global Symposium on Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality in Rio de Janeiro.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 8: Pham Anh Khoa – Vietnam
Pham Anh Khoa is a Vietnamese rock star who uses his fame and talents for the betterment of society. Unlike many other artistes, Khoa doesn’t write songs that degrade and demean the women in his life. Instead, his songs contain messages of healthy relationships. His passion for gender equality is not limited to just his music. He actively speaks out against gender-based violence as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Soul Nation campaign which seeks to prevent violence against women. As the campaign’s celebrity spokesperson, he attends interviews on the campaign’s behalf and performing at concerts that promote their message of gender equality. More recently, Khoa has participated in a UN Women event for youth clubs called Da Nang Youth Union.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 9: Emmanuel Ochora – Uganda
Emmanuel Ochora is a Ugandan male ally focused working to address women’s reproductive health problems and gender-based violence. He co-founded a youth-led NGO by the name of Gulu Youth for Action (GYFA) that works to increases awareness regarding the aforementioned causes and supports girls’ education by working with health and education officials within the government. HIV/AIDS programmes that focus on gender equality and youth are coordinated through GYFA and Ochora. A unique aspect of GYFA is that it doesn’t solely use its resources for policy changes and behind-the-scene duties, but expands its reach by involving youth with education and drama. By providing an artistic outlet for youth, GYFA has the ability to reach and engage more youth – especially boys, a demographic that needs to be reached in order to achieve gender equality.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 10: Lieutenant General David Morrison – Australia
Australia’s Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, is a White Ribbon campaign ambassador who is instrumental in getting the Australian army working with the White Ribbon campaign to educate Australian men in the armed forces about gender equality and men’s role in stopping violence against women. In a partnership agreement between White Ribbon and Army, Lieutenant General Morrison has agreed to Duntroon and the Army Recruit Training Centre participating in the White Ribbon workplace accreditation pilot project. When it was discovered that some soldiers were going online to distribute offensive and abusive materials about women in the Australian army, he went on public record on YouTube, stating that women are respected, equal and integral members of the Australian army and “if you don’t like it, then get out!”
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 11: Tura Lewai – Fiji
Tura Lewai is a Fujian advocate who works with young people to work towards gender equality. Lewai works as the Gender and Arts Officer for the Foundation of the South Pacific People International, in which he engages men and boys to end gender violence. Lewai started a programme known as “Stepping Stones” to find the link between gender inequality and HIV, as well as how to educate young people and split the statistic. “Stepping Stones” uses theatre and music to communicate key messages about stopping violence against women to local communities as part of kickstarting changes in behavior and attitudes surrounding sexual violence. Aside from running “Stepping Stones”, Lewai also promotes ending violence against women throughout other countries in the Pacific.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 12: David Schwimmer – United States of America
David Schwimmer, the actor best known for his role as Ross Geller in the TV show, “Friends”, is a director and board member for a California-based nonprofit called The Rape Foundation, which works with victims of date and child rape. His work with the Foundation includes pushing for legislation to ban drugs that are commonly used in date rape, such as Rohypnol and GHB. The work that he did with the Rape Foundation inspired him to direct the movie “Trust” about the dangers of the online predators who groom underaged girls for sexual abuse. In 2011, Schwimmer screened “Trust” with Children 1st on World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse and Violence against Children.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 13: Adisa Jelani Andwele – Barbados
Adisa Jelani Andwele is a Barbadian-born New Yorker who spreads his message of gender equality and anti-violence against women through his poems and music. Andwele is a Spokesperson on Peace and Poverty Eradication for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, a UN Women Partner for Peace for the Caribbean, and works with the Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign by promoting Caribbean artists. Outside of working with all of these amazing organisations, Andwele has set up humanitarian projects throughout the Caribbean and West Africa.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 14: Joachim Ostertag – Canada
Joachim Ostertag is the brain’s behind the activist campaign Change the Cycle. The work of this organisation is to bicycle across Canada to speak to men of all walks of life about changing their views on gender. By visiting these communities and seeing where the disconnect lies, Ostertag is able to communicate and dissolve the sexist beliefs that many of these men hold. When he finds the communities themselves to be lacking in resources, he raises funds for better services that will allow equality to begin to take form. Ostertag believes that, despite the sexist beliefs perpetuated by pop culture, men want change. They long for a society where they have healthier relationships with the women in their lives, as well as with each other.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 15: Dragan Bozanic – Serbia
Dragan Bozanic works for the Provincial Secretariat for Economy, Employment, and Gender Equality of the Serbian government as an advisor to help government institutions improve their responses to violence against women. In the last four years, he has coordinated, together with his colleagues, the implementation of the Strategy for Protection Against Domestic Violence and Other Forms of Gender-Based Violence in Vojvodina. The focus of his work is capacity building of line institutions to deliver integrated and efficient responses to violence against women, as well as raising awareness on the unacceptability of violence. Bozanic also works within local communities to strengthen ties and understand their own gender inequality issues.
Anti-VAW Male Role Model 16: Alan Morrison – United Kingdom and Bangladesh
British consul Alan Morrison splits his time between the United Kingdom and Bangladesh, fighting the deep-rooted institution of forced marriage. Morrison stays in contact with law enforcement and schools of all ages in order to be contacted with information regarding missing British-born Bangladeshi girls that may have been stranded in Bangladesh. His job is to locate and speak to every missing girl to give them the opportunity to leave with him. For the girls who choose to do so, Morrison provides them with complete protection during their flight home and afterwards, helps them reclaim their lives in the UK, to return to education, and have a future that means something to them.