Empowering the Next Generation of Women and Girls
A Man Engaged
A Man Engaged
Patoma Arama is 48 years old and a polygamist from the village of Ama, located 4 kilometers from Ouo, in the region of Mopti. In 2009, Patoma was identified by CARE Mali as a Community Relay for the promotion of maternal and child health. Later, he was identified as a Change Agent for CARE Mali’s Men Engage initiative. Patoma is from a community in which men are resistant to supporting women in their development activities. In spite of this resistance, he quickly understood that women are at the center of sustainable development.
“The capacity building I received helped me a lot. I received training on the VSLA approach, social norms, gender, the prevention of female genital cutting, nutrition, essential family practices, civic education, rights and responsibilities, female leadership, advocacy, and social negotiation. Thanks to all of this capacity building, I became a Change Agent committed to women’s cause: I support women in the coordination of their VSLA activities, I support them in developing and submitting their files, and I help facilitate their access to elective posts.
I have never backed down to my detractors. I have objectives I am aiming for. So I decided to contribute to the objective sought by the Men Engage initiative. Currently, my efforts to support women are well known in the commune. Today I am at the head of the network of change agents in my commune.
The biggest change in my family life is the fact that I listen to my wives with more attention, and I pay more attention to my children. I have stopped believing that children’s education only concerns women. I understood that I am the first responsible. I was able to adopt such an attitude thanks to an awareness I acquired through sessions and discussions with men and women.
I realized that, contrary to what our parents and some men from our generation say, women have very good ideas that can help to improve life conditions through good management, household cohesion, and paying attention to each family member.
During the whole process of my personal change, I faced pressure from the community, especially when I began regularly accompanying my wives to health centers, when I would pound millet to lighten the workload of my wives, and during my leadership of family meetings. In my village, I have long been perceived as an ‘abnormal person’. Today, I am very proud of myself because the members of my household trust me very much and see me as being transparent; we don’t hide anything from each other and I do not feel like the sole master of my household.
For those who believe that women must always accept or submit themselves to everything a man suggests or decides, I would advise them to rethink their position and to try, just once, to be willing to discuss a problem with their wives; then they will realize the time they wasted by not including their wives in decision-making.
As far as the other men in my family are concerned, I make sure that they see me supporting my wives and my children. During family meetings, I make sure that women participate, and I encourage them to offer their points of view. Every time my brothers approach me about a subject related to their household, I do not hesitate to ask them if they shared it with their wives first. I very much encourage the women in the family to express themselves and to encourage their husbands to consult them on family decisions.
I think that by continuing on this road, my household will be happier: the members of my household will trust me more, I will provide more information on what is happening in my home, and no one will hesitate to approach me to identify solutions to problems. This will ensure cohesion, peace and happiness.”
My willingness to pursue change actions is inspired by my perception of a sustainable development in our commune that places women at the center and that results in the wellbeing of our households.
- Patoma Arama
As part of the women’s empowerment program, the Men Engage Initiative works with men and boys at different levels as agents of change. Some of the activities include:
- Personal: Create and support men and boys’ groups for gender equality; facilitate meetings and reflection among male staff on masculinities; support peer colearning. Social analysis and action; Working with men to understand their roles in reproductive health; discussions on violence against women and girls;
- Household: couples dialogues, husbands group;
- Communities: work with traditional leaders; communicating positive changes in favor of gender equity.
- National: national network share work on EMB; study on masculinities