Africa Unite hosted a dialogue on Gender at Salt River Community Dialogue in collaboration with Cape Town Refugee and Migrant Center on the 26th of October 2012. This dialogue was a follow-up of a Human Rights Workshop held in September that raised many issues with regards to gender that needed to be discussed. Some of the topics discussed were:
- What is Gender?
- Understanding Gender Roles (how it can lead to conflict and power struggles)
- Gender Equality and Strategies to Build Gender Equality
- Gender Awareness
The dialogue was facilitated with group work and presentations followed by discussions. Below are some highlights of the dialogue:
Participants realised and learned for the first time ever that gender is not the same with the sex of a person.
Participants agreed and discussed with a fellow participant who stood up and confessed: “All along I thought that when we talk about gender inequality, we will be talking about women only. As a result, I hated to hear anything about gender equality. But now I understand that it also includes men and men as well can have gender inequality. Men also have to participant for there to be gender equality.”
Another said: ‘There is a need to have more of these workshops especially with women because somehow they seem to think that because of gender equality they can now abuse men. They need to understand that its about creating a space, were all human beings (whether men, women, children, black or white, citizen or not) are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by strict gender roles.”
There was also another woman who said she wished her husband was there to have learned what gender is all about and how lack of proper understanding can lead to conflict and power struggles.
One man expressed: “Culture and what was acceptable then is not acceptable now. As men we have to be open and let our wives, our women, daughters have chances as well because culturally and historically we (men) have had so many opportunities. Though we can’t change the past, we can change the future, working and living with women equally.”