By Justus Abitekaniza.

Gender balance in the decision-making processes is critical for gender and development. However, this can only be achieved if men work side by side with women to share the responsibility in breaking the harmful cultural norms and practices as well as the social structural barriers that hinder women’s equal and influential participation in entrepreneurship and politics.

FOWODE has continued to support proactive work by male champions as a necessary approach to put in place a favorable environment, with a leveled ground for women’s participation at all stages of decision making. These male champions have helped in enhancing the appreciation of more men within the communities about the importance of human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. In this way, they have built a cadre of gender-sensitive men who will contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and continue to advance the gender agenda.

Kayodi Christopher has been a male champion for four years in Zirobwe Sub County in Luwero district. He has talked to over 200 men in the sub-county and modeled over 60 of them. Under the Women’s Economic and Political Empowerment project (WEPE), Kayodi was refreshed with new tactics through training on how best to model more men especially the youth.

Kaamu Kalanzi, 28, and Namubiru Sharifa, 25 are a happy couple that has been together for 3 years now. They are one of the young families that have been mentored by Kayodi Christopher. They confirm that they are benefiting from equal sharing of responsibilities and shared decision-making.

Kalanzi explains that they have both set up individual projects for growth but equally support each other. Sharifa, who runs and manages a poultry project is proud of her husband who, seemingly is different from other men. She adds that she has allowed her to have full control of the poultry project and this has enabled them to catch up with the demands of life.

“Many people admire us. We never fight. We share responsibilities according to who is available for what. When he is cooking, I fetch the water for the poultry and home use. We do not have a child yet but I hope he will be a good dad. Papa Kayodi has done us good” explained Sharifa.

The male champions have not only led to men’s enhanced knowledge and understanding of gender and women’s rights but have also created a change of attitudes and men’s behaviors towards gender issues.

“The constant engagements from Papa Kayodi Christopher- have opened my mind to realize that the old traditions and attitudes are no longer relevant and valid in modern days. The consequences are greater these days if you continue disrespecting women and keeping them behind. If she is engaged in constructive work, it’s the family as a whole that benefits” Kalanzi adds.