Discrimination against males in the context of humanitarian agencies/causes

Some time ago I came across the following item in ‘Inside Man‘, a rather good UK publication focusing on men’s issues:

Nine out of ten people pictured in charity posters are women (25 September 2014)

The article tells us that charities are loathe to use pictures of men in their posters and advertising campaigns because of an empathy gap that exists in the community. Pictures of poor men just don’t elicit anywhere near the same amount of sympathy as do pictures of poor women.

I have included a link to this article in quite a few tweets I have sent to organisations such as Plan International, in response to various gender-biased campaigns they have promoted online.

One example was a campaign that focused on providing clean drinking water for women and girls (google on ‘clean water for women’ for many examples of similar campaigns). Clean water for poor men and boys? Not so important it would seem, though I doubt that’s because they are sitting in deck chairs quaffing Moet.

There have been other campaigns related to the effects of global warming, for example. Apparently problems such as global warming have a greater affect women/girls, with men/boys protected by way of some kind of force-field.

Oh, and if we needed a reminder as to how little a male life is considered to be worth, who could forget #BringBackOurGirls?

And then today I came across a reddit mensrights discussion thread on this same theme. It’s entitled:

Did many men lose their lives due to discriminatory policies? (26 May 2016)

“Most international charities discriminate against men at least since 1995. In 2010 Haiti Earthquake men were denied food. Do you think such policies are responsible for many excess men’s deaths?”

It’s worth taking a moment to look at the readers comments (30 of them as at the time I uploaded this post).

The Australian Government not only provides far more more funding for women/girls with regards to its domestic programs, but now its foreign aid programs are increasingly gender-targeted. This January 2017 article, for example, discusses the Australian Government contribution towards UN Women. In November 2016 Prime Minister Turnbull advised that the resettlement scheme for those in detention centres would prioritise women, children and families. Because #genderequality

See also Australia urged to put women and girls at centre of foreign policy (17 April 2017)

A selection of foreign aid organisations that fail to address the welfare needs of men

List of human rights issues as identified/pursued by the United Nations … men are apparently missing in action. The UN doesn’t even bother to list International men’s Day (19 November) in its online calendar of events.

globalgoalsSee globalgoals.org and their twitter stream (@TheGlobalGoals) for many examples of sexist statements and programs

See GirlRising and their twitter stream (@GirlRising) for more of the same

See ActionAid and their twitter stream (@ActionAid) for more of the same. Note the section called ‘The Facts’ contained debunked factoids – except Point 3 (violence) which if true is also true for men, who face far more violence overall)

Upon first arriving at the web site of Project Futures the organisation appears gender-neutral. Sadly the more you read the clearer their blindness to trafficked or enslaved men becomes, despite the size of that problem in the Asian region. They also appear to be supportive of disgraced activist Somaly Mam (refer wiki entry).

Further sources illustrating and/or discussing gender bias in foreign aid:

African Opposition to UNICEF’s Mass Infant Circumcision Campaign: UNICEF responds. So do Africans (1 August 2017) And when the UN does decide to ‘help’ men/boys, is this is the best they can manage?

Canada commits $97-million to Congo under feminist foreign-aid policy (6 July 2017)

How to spend foreign aid like a feminist (4 July 2017)

Ottawa unveils new feminist foreign-aid policy (9 June 2017) Canada

“The federal government has unveiled what it is calling “Canada’s first feminist international-assistance policy,” with plans to eventually ensure that at least 95 per cent of the country’s foreign aid helps improve the lives of women and girls”

Secret aid worker: Men have as many issues as women, we just don’t know what they are (14 February 2017)

“Despite cries that gender is as much about men as it is about women, most project proposals or documents referring to gender will mention women, but little about men. If they do talk about men, they do so in terms of their relations with and respect for women.”

The U.N.’s Shocking Gender/Feminist Bias: Masterpost with Links (17 September 2016)

Dear #GamerGate, UN feminism is more dangerous than you know (27 September 2015)

Gender Equality in Humanitarian Assistance (March 2015) Sweden

“A gender equality perspective in humanitarian assistance takes into account that:

•  Crises affect women, girls, boys and men differently;
•  Existing power inequalities  between women and men exacerbates during crisis;
•  Women, girls, men and boys have different needs and different coping mechanisms;
•  Women, girls, men and boys have different opportunities to benefit from support; and
•  Women and girls are an important resource in designing and delivering humanitarian assistance.”

Sounds almost fair. But in terms of outputs this model is imbued with gynocentric bias, which manifests itself via a plethora of programs aimed at women/girls. There are few/no programs directed at men/boys, this being rationalised through the belief that they can cope better/are less affected/that supporting them may worsen the problem, etc.

Thai Team Receives World Bank Award for Innovations to Prevent Gender-Based Violence, with more details in a blog post entitled Ending the invisible violence against Thai female sex workers (June 2016) I submitted a comment to the blog post  which was not uploaded … par for the course when feminist author meets dissenting view.

“Women must believe that their safety and rights are worth defending – even when the odds feel stacked against them for involvement in sex work. Clients and police need these messages too. We must create an environment that tells women they do not deserve to be abused, that someone cares about their safety and well-being.   
 
We are invigorated, inspired, and challenged to transform a world that perpetrates violence and blames victims to one in which freedom, safety, health and human rights prevail for all.”

Presumably written by the author without a hint of irony. Female victims matter, male ones don’t. No mention in the write-up of this project about the violence experienced by male and transgender sex-workers … why?  Could the answer be ‘Gynocentrism manifested by way of feminist bias’?

Zika and Ebola had a much worse effect on women: we need more research to address this in future (20 October 2016)

Read down to see “By the end of 2015, the three West African countries most affected by Ebola – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – had a total of 8,703 cases of the virus in women compared to 8,333 in men. But the sex tally of those infected does not reveal the social impact of the disease on local populations.”

Take five with Joy Chebet Bii: Why does digital literacy matter for women and girls? (4 October 2016) Girls get taught to code, boys can watch on

Defining, Demonstrating, & Understanding Male Disposability (30 September 2016)

Iconic Australian charity changes its name to ‘Ourtown’ in 2016 after 55 years as ‘Boystown’, as explained by them and as announced in a media article

Unheard Voices: Men and Youth in Thailand’s Conflict-Affected Deep South (21 September 2016) An oh-so-rare example of consideration being given to the welfare of men/boys in a humanitarian program

Meteor hits earth: Women most affected (19 September 2016) Video

How Clean Cookstoves Create Gender Equality (15 September 2016) Apparent over-reach to promote this as a gender issue given lack of evidence in either this article nor the linked source article.

Commonwealth Ministers pledge four-point plan to empower women (9 September 2016)

Take a look at how fear of sounding politically incorrect forces the U.N into hypocrisy and inaction, ignoring the male education crisis in East Asia (23 June 2016) Reddit discussion thread

Teaching slum girls and female refugees to believe in themselves (17 June 2016) with related Reddit discussion thread here

5 Ways to End Poverty by Focusing on Women and Girls (14 June 2016)

Canada to turn away single men as part of Syrian refugee resettlement plan (24 November 2015) So Muslims OK, but men not OK, right?

Inside Story – The silent victims of rape (28 July 2011)

The rape of men: the darkest secret of war (17 July 2011)

“… The research by Lara Stemple at the University of California doesn’t only show that male sexual violence is a component of wars all over the world, it also suggests that international aid organisations are failing male victims. Her study cites a review of 4,076 NGOs that have addressed wartime sexual violence. Only 3% of them mentioned the experience of men in their literature. “Typically,” Stemple says, “as a passing reference.””

Haitian Men starve while “Women Only” get food (1 February 2010)

UN sets up women-only food aid in Haiti (31 January 2010)

Recognizing Gender-Based Violence Against Civilian Men and Boys in Conflict Situations (2006)

I will add further references and discussion to this post as time permits and as I come across relevant items.

See also my blog post entitled ‘Human trafficking of men and boys + other hidden sexual violence against males

3 thoughts on “Discrimination against males in the context of humanitarian agencies/causes”

  1. I contacted KIVA about their celebration of International Women’s Day. I said:
    “I wish you showed the same compassion to boys and men :-(”

    This was their reply:
    “Thanks for responding to our International Women’s Day email and I’m sorry you feel like we’re paying too much attention to women.

    Microfinance is important for both men and women, and Kiva will always continue to be a broad and inclusive platform for supporting borrowers of all kinds.

    The importance of emphasizing the particular benefits of empowering women and girls has been gaining prominence recently, and especially on March 8th on this international day of recognition for women.

    We definitely do not only promote loans to women and have done similar Match Day and “flash funding” promotions for different demographics, such as men in agriculture. We find that when we focus requests for support, it tends to drive loan volume higher, as sometimes people are too overwhelmed by all the choices on Kiva.

    The good news for you is that International Women’s Day is just one day out of the year and is already over, along with the spotlight on female loans. If you need any context as to why there are generally more women on Kiva throughout the year, however, here are resources and studies from the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, which show the profound impact microloans are having on women in particular”

    Bonus prize for anyone who can tell me where I implied that Kiva is paying too much attention to women prompting “I’m sorry you feel like we’re paying too much attention to women.”
    I then received a follow up email about the quality of my interaction, and I pointed out that the response was somewhat antagonistic to an existing lender.

    My next step is to generate ideas for KIVA to support International Men’s Day, and any suggestions will be gratefully received. I plan to include this on Reddit and maybe with J4MB to see if we can create a momentum for inspiring Kiva to replicate their initiatives for women on IMD.

    In the light of the response I received, I am sceptical!

    1. Yes, I have also seen and experienced that knee-jerk reaction in other gender-related areas, for e.g. domestic violence. Somehow (when dealing with the imperious and entitled ones) complaining about paying no attention to men translates to complaining about paying too much attention to women. This is then invariably followed up with … (and so) you don’t care about women (or even ‘hate women’). There is no middle path for these people. You must either support them fully or shut up and get out of the way.

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