The Greater Horn of Africa region, in particular, has seen women’s inequality enforced and entrenched through cultural norms, religious dictates and state policies, implemented by and through men. Thus engaging with and directly countering the subordinating rhetoric that perpetuates inequality in societies across the region is essential to the path toward equal human rights for women and men. By directly countering subordinating rhetoric, wherever it manifests, SIHA will push for transformations of mindsets, laws, and religious, traditional, and social practices that have contributed to gender inequality in societies across the region and have normalized discriminatory realities for women and girls.
Where this approach leads to negotiation with men, SIHA will use due caution, being wary of the risks of recreating men as gatekeepers. By transforming norms, beliefs, behaviors, and rhetoric that fuel inequality, SIHA seeks to increase the number of men throughout the region who are allies to our work, taking care to remind male allies that the role of “ally” is a supporting one. In particular, SIHA sees male youth as an especially critical population to engage in changing negative social norms about women and girls. During the prior strategy cycle, SIHA saw the value of a contextual approach to negotiating with men. Although the countries in the Horn of Africa share many similar dynamics, each has its own nuanced context and socio-political dynamics of patriarchy and violence; where SIHA has seen success, engaging men in frank discussions of gender and patriarchy, it was largely due to contextualized approaches that enabled the root causes of violence to emerge. SIHA will use participatory approaches to develop contextualized ways of engaging men who are accountable to the women and girls SIHA represents.