What role do men and masculine folks have in ending gender-based violence? 

A critical one.  

The Women’s Foundation understands that our work to end gender-based violence and create a world of economic opportunity, safety, and leadership for all women and girls is connected with engaging, collaborating, and investing in organizations who lead work with men and masculine folks. 

In FebruaryMen as Peacemakers hosted their first Men and Masculine Folks Statewide Summit to bring together organizations and individuals that are a part of the MN Men and Masculine Folks Network. The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN) was honored to be a leading partner in the summit; WFMN trustee Pheng Thao is a statewide coordinator of the network.

The network includes individuals directly involved in gender-based violence work and those who are interested in learning moreA vital goal of the network is to convene individuals with a broad range experience levels working in violence prevention, including individuals who had hosted informal monthly meetings with direct service providers. By organizing men and masculine folks from different sectors and varying levels of expertise in violence prevention, the network ensures an inclusive and diverse dialogue and safe space for this community to strengthen their solidarity with one another for the movement.  

Lavon Morris-Grant, founder and executive director at MACOSH Healing Network, with Cynthia J. Zapata, WFMN Community Impact Manager

The summit was inspiring and generated conversations on how important it is to listen to the community and to center their leadership in the movement to end gender-based violence. Men as Peacemakers brought author and speaker Lavon Morris-Grant from Atlanta, Georgia, as the conference keynoteLavon’s presentation centered around her journey as a Black mother of two boys and her experience with the trauma of domestic violence in a system that often leaves Black communities behindDuring her keynote, Lavon urged the audience again to center the needs of community so people do not get left behind in the system that is working to help them as they heal from experience domestic violence and sexual assault.  

By convening organizations around the state of Minnesota, the network seeks to collectively inspire, inform, and develop a dialogue with others in the field to create community-driven solutions to end gender-based violence. Men as Peacemakers also presented their new videos series, Our Nuances. This video series presents individuals from different communities across the state of Minnesota to examine how gender-based violence manifests itself and highlights the complexities and intersections of culture and language.  

Gender-based violence is a multifaceted issue that involves looking deeper at the intersections of gender, sexuality, place, and race to create solutions. As those who were present at the summit learned, actively listening to the voices of the communities we serve and centering their leadership is critical to ensuring gender and racial equity. 

By Cynthia J. Zapata, Community Impact Manager 

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