The Motsepe Foundation, guided by Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, hosted a solutions summit on human rights and issues of sexual harassment on Thursday to join the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day.
The Motsepe Foundation, guided by Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, hosted a solutions summit on human rights and issues of sexual harassment on Thursday to join the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day. It was the second annual women's summit for the foundation.

As a young man who lived his teen years in a predominantly female-led household, the issues affecting women are closest to my heart.

No matter how much I look at it, subconsciously I was raised a feminist.

According to my dictionary, a feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

As a young adult growing up in the poor village of Pankop, Mpumalanga, I was privy to unspeakable sights of how women were harassed and abused every day. Somehow, the rural set-up normalises harassment.

Which is precisely why I decided to establish a movement in the rural areas. I had near-future worries.

I didn’t know if it was me or my sister, Tebogo, who was going to be blessed with a daughter first, but I knew one thing: I didn't want that baby girl to grow up in a world of angry, sidelined, disempowered, vulnerable and dangerous boys and men.

So the arrival of my niece, Dzivhuluwani (meaning “Be wise”), reinforced my message and vision to create a new generation of boys and men where gender-based violence would be a thing of the past.

That had to start with the boy child. The truth is, girls and women remain the most vulnerable and the most affected people in our society, by gender-based-violence.

The Motsepe Foundation's 2nd Annual Women’s Summit was a victory for women. To be in the presence of phenomenal women like Professor Thuli Madonsela, Mrs Zanele Mbeki and Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe was a more relatable promise of a new dawn for a young adult feminist like me.

I neither celebrate nor recognise the victories of women only on specific days such as International Women’s Day or National Women’s Day. I celebrate them every day when a man, especially a black man, realises and takes responsibility to nourish his own body and cook for himself. I celebrate the little victory when a man comes to his senses and knows that a father cannot babysit his daughter or son - it is called parenting. That is something both men and women can do.

I also do not recognise their defeats only when men think that marriage is an achievement for women and it has little to do with us men. My heart sinks every time young men think it is a man's world and it will always be a man's world.

I also recognise the defeats when boys and men think that cooking and cleaning-up after themselves or changing nappies is a weakness or it is emasculating.

But I continue to say, if it is gender transformation we want, #CountMeIn because we need to #PressForProgress together as boys, girls, men and women.

If the Motsepe Foundation wants to start a Men’s Unit, count me in: I would even head it if needs be, or even better, absorb YMM, it’s welcome.

Because, if boys and men are neglected, we will still find ourselves fighting the same battle 10-20 years from now.

I strongly believe that if we meticulously reconstruct how boys and men are socialised, we are going to see a great advancement of human rights, which are women's rights too.

The euphoria in the room had a strong sense of “Thuma Mina”, the men and women at the summit gave me hope that together as men and women, we will fight for the rights of women in the political, social, economic spaces.

Professor Thuli Madonsela said: “when we say women have to lead, it doesn’t mean that men should be excluded”.

* Kabelo Chabalala is founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM). E-mail: [email protected]; Twitter: @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Star