St. Catharines and the Niagara region will soon be home to a new collaborative and innovative event that fights against gender violence.
101 male community leaders from across the region will be participating in the event, known as 101 Men, to work towards ending violence against women.
The event hopes that training and inspiring men they consider to be in powerful and key roles within the community will change both the conversation and the culture surrounding gender violence. It is an innovative attempt to address gender violence as a community leadership issue and explicitly focuses on educating and utilizing male leaders.
Co-developed by Dr. Jackson Katz, a prominent writer and educator of gender violence issues, and the Coalition to End Violence Against Women (CEVAW), the event brings an international focus to the communities within the Niagara region.
“Niagara’s approach with 101 Men is highly-innovative. This is one of the first communities in the world to go at this issue in this way,” said Katz. “The gender violence sector has been historically led by women, but men in positions of community leadership have an incredibly important role to play.”
“The CEVAW team shows real foresight in activating male leaders to help change the social norms in male culture that have such an impact on the attitudes and behaviours of young men and boys,” he added.
Dr. Katz is known internationally for his work and activism on the issue of violence against women. He has conducted training programs with professional sports organizations, and the United States Military, and his TED talk “Violence against Women: It’s a Men’s Issue” has been viewed over three million times on YouTube.
The event hopes that by targeting these male leaders, and educating them on the issue of gender violence, they can in turn use their influential positions, especially over young men, to raise awareness and change behaviours.
“We’re bringing Niagara’s male leadership into ‘active duty’ because they are a constituency whom for too long have been ignored. We must recognize there are good men, good fathers that want the same thing: a community without gender violence, for their sisters, daughters, co-workers and employees,” said Ruthann Brown, Executive Director of Women’s Place of South Niagara and CEVAW member.
Their approach considers violence against women not just an individual problem of certain men, but a systemic social issue that continues to develop and sustain abusers. Dr. Katz advocates a re-contextualization of gender violence as predominantly a men’s issue, arguing that educating men in positions of influence will shape how other men treat women.
“What we have created along with Dr. Katz is a call to arms for male leaders. We’re asking them to use the full force of their profile, power and status to drive behavioural and cultural change in Niagara, from the top down,” said Elisabeth Zimmermann, CEVAW member.
Among the men participating is Brock University’s own Brian Hutching, Chief Financial Officer and former CFL Player.
The event takes place on Friday November 18 in St. Catharines, with tickets starting from $101.00.