In an effort to increase men’s advocacy for gender justice, the All Africa Conference of Churches established six platforms of male champions for gender justice in pilot African countries including Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Togo. The role of the All Africa Conference of Churches is to accompany these platforms by strengthening their capacities to identify and eliminate all forms of gender-based violence in each of the countries, thus enhancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Archbishop John Praise Daniel from Nigeria described how, when a woman was killed in domestic violence, allegedly by her husband, local churches held a press conference to strongly condemn domestic violence. "We now have a strong voice speaking against domestic violence,” said Daniel.
Rev. Samuel Adeyemo, also from Nigeria, added: “By God's grace I have been able, as a male champion, to go to schools to teach our young ones on the need to avoid gender-based violence,” he said. “I’ve been able to do a lot of talking to a lot of young people and also to parents, so they will be able to teach their children.”
He has also used the church platform, he added.
In Togo, Atohoun Kokou said that male champions held a meeting, and decided to design and produce posters and pictures that invite discussion around prevention of gender-based violence. “Now we make these available as programmes in churches,” he said. “We also meet with women's groups because women are very key for gender justice, so we also meet with them and talk with them.”
One champion in Togo is a school teacher, so he is able to meet with students, Kokou added. “He uses these pictures to talk to boys in the schools, and raise awareness,” he said. “We also try to make every champion be committed in their mission, because what we do is really to ask them to write an action plan.”
In Malawi, Rev. Moyenda Kanjerwa is the lead male champion. “We have sermons in the church preaching against gender-based violence, and preaching the love of God,” he said. “If a man really loves a woman, he must not do any violence against her.”
Also, in Malawi, a composer, Pastor Matthews Kambalame has written songs that carry messages promoting gender justice. He meets with men at social events, even creating a “trophy for gender justice” competition.
The champions in Malawi are spread throughout the country. “We have picked one from the north, two in the central region, one in the eastern region, and one in the south,” Kambalame said. “That's our strategic thinking.”
In Uganda, male champions are engaged in churches, and through local TV and radio talk shows.
“The male champions in the Anglican Church are very much involved in this programme,” said Simbwa Lazarus. Prince Rwabihurwa, also from Uganda, is making reusable pads to sustain girls in school.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, male champions went to see soldiers in the barracks, to the universities and to churches. “Some women who are in the ministry are very happy to see that there are now men who can accompany them in the work they are doing, said Prof. David Mayele. “The need is great, and our work has started bearing fruit.”
Rev. Nicole Ashwood, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Just Community of Women and Men, offered a message of good will from the WCC, and thanked the All Africa Conference of Churches and the male champions for a laudable initiative.
“What is a champion? It is someone who triumphs in a race,” said Ashwood. “I would say that, by being named male champions of gender justice in the All Africa Conference of Churches, you are all both triumphant and supportive.”
She commended the male champions for rising above the stereotypes of patriarchy. “We recognize that you’ve already been actively engaged with justice for the world in your local context,” Ashwood said.