The GAD Committee is proud to announce that the first steps have been taken to create a camp to promote gender equality among young men.
GAD has long recognized the importance of addressing male actors in the progression towards achieving gender equality, and with the creation of a camp that focuses on men and masculinity, the efforts that manifest Camp GLOW, another GAD staple, will achieve a sort of balance. Indeed, it was at the suggestion of past GLOW planners that the seed for a men’s camp was planted. At one point it was even suggested that Camp GLOW alternate participants every year to include young men. Another suggestion was to integrate male and female campers into the same camp. Happily, enough interest has been united in order to create a second gender camp, with similarities to Camp GLOW and a gender theme, without affecting the powerful experience that Camp GLOW has come to represent. Camp GLOW and those who organize it have therefore fostered a younger brother.
On October 18 interested men from the Health Sector met in Managua to discuss a camp for men. Among other things, for an attending cadre of young Nicaraguan men, the camp will aim to:
- Promote positive behaviors, expressions, and perspectives.
- Study gender in Nicaragua, the state of affairs and how it relates to behaviors expressed.
- Establish plans on how to implement the changes.
- Equip the participants to become positive role models in their communities.
Another early decision to be reached regarded the inclusion of the female perspective in the camp. This inclusion will be important in balancing discussion themes with the real-world inequality that women face due to the actions of men. It also goes further than that: a powerful superstition held by male gender-equality advocates is that men respond better to forums on masculinity which are populated exclusively by men.
However, research recently conducted in Mexico seems to indicate that the presence of female facilitators at forums on masculinity have no negative impact on the acquisition of knowledge or changes in attitudes among participants. While many male facilitators have seen their men’s groups clam up and shrivel in the presence of a woman, or else get indignant, belligerent, and even hostile, there exists research indicating that female facilitators can have just as much of a positive effect on men as male facilitators. Luckily, female gender equality advocates willing to step into the planning stages of a camp for men were not hard to identify.
With a slightly larger team at the helm, the first Peace Corps Camp aimed at promoting gender equality among young Nicaraguan men is now fully underway. The labors to be undertaken will be faced with a certain satisfaction that gender equality advocacy is achieving yet another tool among a much needed population. The team harbors deep hope for subtle changes among a limited population, and recognizes that all great things start out small.