From 18th to 22nd June, the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC) represented by Florence Mutesi (a research and advocacy expert) participated in the Human Rights Council’s 38th Session (HRC38). RWAMREC joined the meeting at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland as part of MenEngage Alliance - a global alliance made up of over 600 partners working to advance gender justice - and Prevention+ - a five-year, multi-country program that envisions a world where healthy, respectful, and equal relationships are the norm.
In June 2017, MenEngage Alliance, Promundo, Sonke Gender Justice, and Rutgers – as Prevention+ Consortium Members - worked together at the Human Rights Council Session (HRC35) in Geneva to influence the language of a resolution put forward by the Government of Canada, focused on ending violence against women (VaW), titled, “Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls.”
This advocacy resulted in a strong resolution, and pursuant to this Human Rights Council Resolution 35/10, a commitment to produce a report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on best practices for engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls.
At the HRC38 in June 2018, the report was presented. A team representing Prevention+ and MenEngage Alliance in Geneva gathered to advocate for the implementation of the guidelines presented in the report. Florence, RWAMREC’s representative, spoke during the side event on HRC38 organized by Rutgers together with Prevention+ partners. The objective of the meeting was to inform decision-makers in Geneva on the evidence, results, and lessons learned of engaging men and boys to prevent violence against women and girls using a gender-transformative approach (GTA). The expected result was to build momentum and joint commitments to implement the lessons learned – from Rwanda as well as Lebanon, Pakistan, Uganda, and Indonesia - on how to engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against all women and girls.
At the event, civil society and government representatives voiced a need for solidarity between MenEngage Alliance and women’s rights organizations in the promotion of women’s empowerment, gender equality and equity, as well as fighting violence against women. Outside of the side event, MenEngage and Prevention+ partners discussed other strategies – such as Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – with which to hold governments accountable and responsible for the advancement of human rights.
A sign post at the United Nations office which reads, “You Have Human Rights Since Birth.”
Presenting and advocating within the Human Rights Council space was an effective way to reach out and strengthen the solidarity between MenEngage, Prevention+, member states, and women’s rights organizations. It was also an important opportunity to be known by and connected with the Rwandan Government’s delegation, in order to work together in the future.