Male Gathering Session of ASTHA

Over 200 men committed to prevent GBV at Male Gathering Session of ASTHA project

“I will never discriminate between my daughter and daughter-in-law”, “We all are human, irrespective of our gender identity. I promise to ensure equal rights and opportunity for all.” – these are some of the commitments that were made during the Male Gathering Session, organised by ASTHA project, Gana Unnayan Kendra, Bogura district. The aim of the event was to raise awareness about the harmful gender norms and practices among the men and also to discuss their role and responsibilities to stop gender-based violence.

Over 200 men joined the event with the spirit of preventing violence against women and girls. Supporting the cause, men from different walks of life, aging from 18 to 60 years, attended the event and pledged to play an active role to stop gender-based violence in their homes and society. They also wrote down their commitments in a banner to express their dedication in ensuring the dignity and rights of every woman and girl. There were also men who shared their thoughts on how they have always played a supporting role to share household work with their wives and also encouraged them and fought against society so that their wives can get education and do job after marriage. Their words inspired other men and boys who were present at the event.

Representatives from different multi-sectoral government departments, civil society organisations, religious leaders, marriage registrars, media and NGOs were also present at the event.

In the discussion sessions, the speakers urged the participants to bring a change in their mindset and respect the choice and rights of women and girls.

“I have seen how women are being discriminated and subjected to violence in so many ways. There are many girls who get married at an early age suffer from fistula. Sadly, in such condition, many of their husbands leave them. It is often the case that they don’t even get support from their family and friends. They feel so hopeless,” said Dr. Md. Shamsul Haque, Civil Surgeon in Bogura who was present as the Chief Guest in the event.

He added, “Here we are ensuring the health sector’s response to gender-based violence. Government has taken initiatives to provide free of cost operation to fistula patients. There is also one-stop crisis centre for the survivors of gender-based violence to support them. The vulnerable women and girls should know that they are not alone in their fight.”

A number of NGOs also participated at the event with their stalls displaying various IEC materials and publications on the prevention of gender-based violence.

ASTHA project is supported by UNFPA and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and is being implemented by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).