The Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre was initially conceived as an exclusively men’s organization striving to reach out to other men in order to promote gender equality through promotion of positive masculinities and male engagement approaches in development programs in Rwanda.
Three major reasons prompted the creations of RWAMREC. These are only the main ones among many others:
The first reason : An alarming situation of men’s violence against women and children from various research reports, especially the reports from the National Police showed that gender-based violence and sexual violence was taking another twist in the rebuilding of Rwanda. It was an imperative for positive minded men to think of an approach that can help them reach out to other men, discuss on causes of violent masculine behaviors and influence them for a positive change. That was the motivation of the 9 founder members of RWAMREC in eliminating gender based violence in Rwanda. It is important that men reach out to other men in order to work together in challenging rigid norms that affect negatively women and children and support and influencing their peers in adopting positive forms of masculinities to end men’s violence against women and children in Rwanda.
The second reason : the gender equality concept was and still is the basis for human rights respect and an important ingredient for effective and sustainable development in Rwanda. However, this concept of gender was misunderstood by many as only a women’s business, thus some men considered it as empowering women on detriment of men, or as solely women’s agendas that men have nothing to do with. This insufficient understanding led to negative perception and resistance for some men, whereas other could even sabotage or block or not simply supporting women’s empowerment or gender promotion work efforts in the country. Some men did not have sufficient information on direct benefits of promoting gender equality in their own lives and on the lives of their family members, but perceived as a threat to their masculinities. RWAMREC was then created to improve this understanding, to help men become positive and supportive of gender equality and women’s empowerment promotion in Rwanda for their own interest and the interests of their family members, and the entire community they live in.
The third reason : there were many issues of negative masculine behaviors and practices that were affecting negatively the lives and wellbeing of men. Some men did not find good reasons for seeking health services or participating in the health of their family members, unless they are in critical conditions for their own health or they are forced to do so for fear of being seen as engaging in women’s activities. Some other men are seen involved in risky behaviors including bad drinking habits, over-speed while driving (killing many people), some men committing suicide, others engaging in risky sexual behaviors and practices that have negative even fatal effects to them and their partners, and other risky masculine behaviors. Promoting positive forms of masculinity so that men can be positive for themselves and for their family members, their spouses and neighbors so that they live positive. This can increase the life expectancy to be equal to that of women in Rwanda, and actually get personal benefits of adopting and practicing positive forms of masculinities. Negative masculinities can be seen as violence against oneself and nobody can be positive to others before being positive to oneself. Promoting positive forms of masculinities can help exposing some hidden forms of violence against men due to cultural norms, and thus design appropriate response and elimination strategies.
The purpose of creating the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre was prompted by the need to empower and reach out to men so that they engage in gender equality practices through promotion of positive masculine behaviors, effective cross-gender dialogue in ending sexual and gender-based violence, enhanced men’s understanding and support to women’s empowerment initiatives, and adoption of healthy and non-violent behaviors that men need for their own development and their participation in promotion of healthy families in Rwanda.