Male awareness on female-based discrimination at FIU

By Kristen Torres

On Tuesday, April 10, several organizations came together to host a HeForShe event to discuss sexism and gender discrimination and how to address it.

UN Women at FIU joined with Change Is Ours and Poderosa Is Her Power to create this #CountOnMe event. In this event, FIU students were encouraged to discuss these topics to not only spread awareness, but to aid in dismantling societal stereotypes hindering gender equality for both men and women.

“This event is to show that we do care about men and we want to focus and zone in on men,” said Melody Duarte, executive director of Change Is Ours.

Change Is Ours focuses on the south Florida community to empower its residents by zoning in on their talents, education and skill sets and give back to the community.

Poderosa Is Her Power is a local non-profit that works in south Florida and Colombia that connects survivors of gender-based violence with resources, such as technology, in their communities. These organizations have been long-time partners because of their similar missions to create social change for the local community.

“We partnered with Laura because her niche is women and that is the majority of the [Change Is Our] community,” said Duarte.

HeForShe is a United Nations Global Initiative started by Emma Watson which focuses on ending gender-based violence and achieving gender equality.

The #CountOnMe workshop started with a presentation by Laura Muñoz, executive director of Poderosa is Her Power, that laid down the basicsfrom what gender is and societal stereotypes to giving statistical details about gender-based violence in both Florida and nationwide. Muñoz spoke with attendees about what they know on these topics.

“We [Poderosa Is Her Power] end the cycles [of gender-based violence] by educating the community and by bringing men into the equation,” said Muñoz.

Attendees gathered into two groups which were facilitated by two male representatives from HeForShe. Both of them spoke during the event on the necessity of male voices in this kind of violence and discrimination.

“We’re part of the problem as well. Having these conversations are important,” said Sante.

Over food, drinks and chatter, participants were asked questions that sparked discussions about how gender discrimination affect their lives.

For instance, Cindy Makita, UN Women Club president, spoke about what women would experience within the modelling industry in South Africa.

“If you’re not working hard, another way was to sleep with someone,” Makita said.

The facilitators did an activity with attendees called “Myth or Fact,” testing their knowledge on the truths and lies about gender discrimination and gender-based violence. Afterwards, Muñoz spoke about sexual abuse and harassment and proposed solutions on how to end this kind of violence against women.

At the end, Muñoz and Duarte passed out pledges to all the men in the room which read “I commit to stand up to gender inequality and violence against women…” with the hashtag #CountOnMe.

Photo retrieved by Flickr

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