Haiti raises men’s and boys’ issues at the United Nations Human Rights Council

I have recently been in contact with a representative of the Government of the Republic of Haiti who advised that they raised men’s and boys’ issues at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The representative strongly believes this is the first time that men’s and boys’ issues have been raised at the Human Rights Council.

The Permanent Mission of Haiti at the United Nations office in Geneva was given an opportunity to make a short statement during the Human Rights Council 44th session, July 2020. The statement at the Human Rights Council can be seen here beginning at 35:48.

The official English language transcript of the statement has been reproduced here with permission. It is notable that the transcript indicates that it is a joint statement with other member and observer states, however, these states have not chosen to make their support public. Kudos to the Republic of Haiti for having the courage to take a public stand on men’s and boys’ issues.

JOINT STATEMENT
 
Men and Boys for Gender Equality

Human Rights Council 44th Session – Item 1: Decisions and Conclusion

Thank you Madame President,
1. I proudly take the floor on behalf a group of Member and Observer States.

2. One of the main themes highlighted during the June sessions of this Council is the situation of human rights of women and girls – and appropriately so. Over the past 100 years, we’ve witnessed substantial and steady progress towards realizing the full enjoyment of all human rights by women and girls.

3. The positive trend is something the international community should be proud of. For example, 100 years ago…
…the right to vote; the right to work outside of the home and in the field of their own choosing; the right to not be harassed at home and at work; the right to divorce; wear pants; join the military; and own their own property to some degree, in every region of the world, were birthrights predominantly inherited by sons and not daughters. The rights mentioned earlier, and the many more we did not, were also advocated for and championed by men, including some who held organizational or political authority.

4. The job hasn’t been easy and remains incomplete. To advance further and support the women and men in this work, the United Nations created the Commission on the Status of Women in 1946, and UN Women celebrated its 10th anniversary last week on July 9, 2020.

5. Unsurprisingly, many more years of labor lie ahead in achieving equitable societies, and all three sessions of the Human Rights Council provide a helpful reminder of how much work the international community still has to do. Empowering women and girls is not enough in accomplishing this shared objective. An often missing tool in the pursuit of gender equality is the growing need for attention and consideration of the challenges that have a disproportionally negative impact on men and boys.

Madame President,
6. Men and boys fully engage as strategic partners and allies for the empowerment of all women and girls, and we must continue to encourage men and boys to fully participate in all actions towards gender equality.

7. What we are bringing to the Council’s attention is that there is an absence of energy towards human rights issues where males are at a disadvantaged and an imbalance of champions at all levels which may stall the progress towards equitable societies. Gender equality is not a zero sum game. The quality of life of women and men, girls and boys are interwoven, interrelated and interdependent. The international community must continue to address the impacts of multiple forms of discrimination against women and girls. And in a different manner, within the context of gender quality, begin to grapple with the complex challenges facing men and boys today.

8. Here are five facts far from the public consciousness:

-men and boys are more likely to engage and suffer from violent behavior;
-men and boys constitute the overwhelming majority of the worldwide prison, missing adults, suicides, drug addicts and homelessness populations;
-men and boys can also suffer from negative body image;
-unfavorable biases exist in draft selection; war deaths; veterans issues; divorce proceedings; education; and in the family and criminal court systems;
-lastly, men and boys are more likely to die in all stages of life. For example, while COVID-19 continues to have unique and unreasonable affects on women and girls, men comprise the majority of COVID-19 deaths in every country where data is available and reliable.

Madame President,
9. Some are content with the position that the topic of men and boys have in the gender parity solar system – the role of distant planet Pluto. Rotating on the far-far edges of gender discussions and while it is acknowledged as part of the system, it is misunderstood and even disregarded. This joint statement is no chest-beating exercise.

10. Incorporating a different perspective in the gender parity conversation will by no means turn Pluto into the Sun. Real and substantive parity will benefit both sides in many ways. The call for more inclusivity is neither an attempt to steal the spotlight or valuable resources away from our shared responsibility of empowering women and girls but an invitation for this Council to play a more complete and comprehensive role in the promotion and protection of all human rights by all human beings for a better complementary world in the next 100 years.

11. I thank you.