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The family is instrumental in perpetuating or diffusing gender stereotyping. Since most children spend the bulk of their time at school, schools serve as the second-most important socialising mechanism after the family. According to UN Women, men who witnessed violence against women as children are more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence in their adult relationships.
Any initiatives aimed at stemming the tide of GBV, like our #NOTNEXT project, will have mixed success if boys and young men are not supported to champion girls’ and young women’s safety. Our Boys And Men (abbreviated BAM) Forum recognises that despite our country’s deeply patriarchal history and the painful, daily, realities thereof, our mission to empower girls and young women will be compromised if it is not inclusive of other genders. This is because so-called women’s issues do not impact only on those with CISfemale gender identity.
Since GBV-related offences against girls and women are perpetrated by boys and men, predominantly, our BAM Forum aims to equip high school boys, who themselves may have witnessed or experienced GBV, to collaborate in the co-creation of a strategy in which GBV is tackled collectively. Our BAM Forum shifts the toxic masculinity narrative of boys and men being aggressors in GBV by providing access to role models, adventure excursions and healing so that high school boys are better equipped to champion girls’ and women’s safety.