Heart-Links was delighted to be invited by Correo Canadiense to talk about the Men for Gender Equality project run by our partner Centro Santa Angela. Heart-Links has supported this multi-stage project since it was first launched in 2016, first training facilitators who would go on to train others; then working with male university students; and then preparing a training manual and other materials that will be used to work with male high school students.

The goal? To enlist men and boys in the struggle to end violence against women by promoting concepts of masculinity that embrace relationships of equality and respect.

zoom interview screenshot with four faces in the frame
Correo Canadiense editor Isabel Inclán sits down with Marleny Constatino and Anthony Peña—both of Centro Santa Angela—and Heart-Links board director Sara Alva to talk about gender equality.

“We start by recognizing that in the matter of gender-based violence, the ones who suffer most from it are women, and the people who perpetrate this violence are mostly men,” says project coordinator Anthony Peña Flores. In the interview, Anthony describes how one young man overcame homophobic misconceptions and learned that its’ okay, even good for you, to show emotion and tenderness to other men.

Topics addressed in the masculinities workshops include the social and cultural roots of machismo, what gender-base violence is and how to eradicate it from personal relationships, fatherhood, sexuality and managing emotions, and violence against women in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

two pairs of men in a masculinities workshop embrace

Marleny Constantino Lucumí, who coordinates programs to end gender-based violence at Centro Santa Angela, acknowledged that achieving gender equality is an uphill battle. The empowerment of women is also key. “It’s difficult, but not impossible,” she say. “It’s a matter of advancing little by little so that women come to understand their rights . . . and how to defend them.”

Heart-Links board director Sara Alva Lizarraga agrees that the kind of changes Heart-Links projects support do not happen overnight. Yet the projects Heart-Links finances with the donations we receive often lead to larger changes down the road. “It’s great for us to see how this seed we have supplied begins to grow and to generate programs that become self-sustaining,” she says.

You can watch the whole interview below. Follow the instructions to add English subtitles.

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Heart-Links is grateful to the Cambia Development Foundation for their financial support of the Men for Gender Equality project.