Several YALI Network members from Uganda participated in an online chat with Jimmie Briggs, co-founder and executive director emeritus of the Man Up Campaign, as part of their efforts around the #16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
Briggs, who is also an instructor for the YALI Network Online Course Understanding the Rights of Women and Girls, told audience members that dialogue, respect and education are key to stopping violence against women and girls.
Briggs noted that one of the most effective ways to open a dialogue with men about abuse against women and girls is “to reach people where they are.”
“You have to go to them. Go where men congregate, where they feel safe, speak to them in their language in their spaces using their tools,” he said.
When asked how best to address GBV when dealing with traditional or cultural norms such as female genital mutilation, he replied:
“What I’ve learned is to not enter from a place of condescension, but respect. Dialogue works best; find that place of mutual understanding. Discuss choices and alternatives. We see that when people from outside a community come in and condemn practices, dialogue shuts down and you get resentment,” Briggs said.
Instead, “discuss the consequences of such practices and offer alternative solutions. These things take time and change — and it won’t happen overnight. Use credible messengers — people in the community whose opinion and counsel is respected.”
Ultimately, Briggs believes that change comes from within and that people change their own minds. “Transformation is a personal, individual thing,” he told Network members.
He says that those working to stop gender-based violence can help by creating the space for people to transform themselves. “It will last longer.”
You can view the full online chat with Jimmie Briggs on Vimeo here.