Male African leaders join the HeForShe campaign

Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paramount Chief Kyungu of Malawi, an influential cultural leader; Ron Archer, a renowned transformative leadership coach from the United States of America; and Gilberto Macuacua, a media personality in Mozambique, who is also a member of the UN Women Regional Civil Society Group (RCSAG), have signed on as male supporters of UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, calling on other men to follow suit.

Paramount Chief-Malawi, Gilberto Macuacua-Mozambique (also RSCAG member), and Ron Archer-USA – They spearheaded the HeForShe sign up during the gala dinner
Paramount Chief-Malawi, Gilberto Macuacua-Mozambique, and Ron Archer spearheaded the HeForShe sign up during the gala dinner. Photo credit: UNWomen/Ruth Waiganjo

The three led by example by signing up on the online platform during a HeForShe gala dinner in Nairobi, Kenya on 10 February, the first regional event of its kind in Africa. The event was attended by Ambassador Sahle Work-Zwede, the Director General, United Nations Office in Nairobi;  Christine Musisi, UN Women Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa; and Zebib Kavuma, Director for the UN Women Kenya Country Office.

Promising to harness the power of cultural leaders to bring about change, Paramount Chief Kyungu,  promised to embark on a campaign to encourage all men in his country to become champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“The cultural leaders in Malawi have been on the forefront of discouraging cultural practices that infringe on the rights of women, such as early marriages, and will continue to do so,” he said.

Paramount Chief Kyungu of Malawi signing the Solidarity banner
Male attendees sign the HeForShe Solidarity banner. Photo credit: UNWomen/Ruth Waiganjo

In addition to the online sign-up during the event, men also signed a banner pledging their solidarity in advocating for gender equality. They were given HeForShe badges to wear on their lapels.

“The media is a powerful tool in shaping opinion and I use the TV programme of Homem que é Homem (Men that are real men) as well as my blog to talk about issues of gender equality and fighting violence against women,” said Gilberto Macuacua.

A 25-year-old Kenyan poet, Mufasa, composed and recited a moving poem titled, “HeForShe” in which he spoke about the abuses women go through and what men can do to advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment. He says his poem was inspired by the struggles of his mother as she single-handedly raised him and three siblings, with very little income.

“Women should be protected and valued and there should be zero tolerance of using women as sex objects. We need to celebrate strong women; the stronger the woman, the stronger the man,” said Mr. Archer.

One of the men who signed up for the HeForShe with UN Women Regional Director ESARO, Christine Musisi. Photo credit: UNWomen/Ruth Waiganjo

These men join the thousands of African men who have already signed on to this global UN Women initiative, to which more than 200,000 men have already committed. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and renowned Malian musician Salif Keita endorsed the campaign last November. And in January, the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, and of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, joined global leaders in launching IMPACT 10X10X10, a one-year pilot effort under the HeForShe campaign that aims to engage governments, corporations and universities as instruments of change to galvanize momentum in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Related stories:

In Focus: Engaging men

In Ethiopia, church bells ring for women and girls