German Government Funds Men’s Conference

As the charity that is only able to host the UK’s National Conference For Men and Boys in the UK thanks the huge generosity of volunteers organize the event; the speakers and facilitators who give their time for free an the delegates who travel from all over the country (many at their own expense; we were both delighted (and a bit jealous) to hear that the German government is hosting a men’s conference!

It would be ungracious not to mention that our own city council in Brighton & Hove has helped  us by part-funding this year’s national conference and who knows how soon it will be before the UK Government takes after its colleagues in Germany and funds a national conference for men and boys in the future.

The key in Germany seems – in part at least –  to be the forthright support of Kristina Schröder, the country’s 32 year old Family Minister  who has publicly challenged German feminists in her book “Danke, emanzipiert sind wir selber!” or “We’re emancipated on our own, thank you very much.” In it she writes: “Never were women in Germany as free as they are today, but in the ideological trenches of the 1970s sit all manner of dogmatists who publicly pass judgment on the results of this freedom.” One chapter is called: “The world has changed — the feminist worldview has not.”

In an open letter published in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the spring of 2011. “We have become so used the monopolistic claims of women’s rights activists on issues relating to gender equality that the idea of including boys and men to a greater degree in the debate has, in the best case, been ignored and in the worst case been branded as a betrayal of the goals pursued by the women’s rights movement.”

As Family Minister Schröder’s has pledged to focus more attention on issues affecting men and boys and started by establishing a German Boys’ Day last spring.

Against this backdrop  Schröder opened a two-day conference today focusing on issues specific to men as society strives to achieve gender equality. Called “Men’s Policies: Contributions to a Gender Equitable Society,” the gathering is the first such high-level conference ever held on men’s issues in the German-speaking world.

From the perspective of The Men’s Network, our approach has always been to make the case for tackling the inequalities that men face in addition to – rather than in opposition to tackling the inequalities that women face and it’s interesting to see the approach taken in different countries to working on behalf of men and boys.

According to a report on the German men’s conference at Spiegel Online, some of the key men’s issues identified include support for fathers, boy’s educational underachievement and men’s short life expectancy.

We’re glad to say that – even though not Government funded – the UK’s Second National Conference for Men and Boys addresses a much broader range of men’s issues including male suicide, the isolation of older; men as victims of violence; mentoring and rites of passage;  working with gay, bisexual and transgender men an much, much more.

What’s also interesting about this development in Germany is learning about some of the men’s groups and campaigners working across Europe. According to Spiegel Online there’s:

  • The Austrian Labor Ministry which has created a ministry devoted specifically to the subject. In 2004, the ministry held the first ever European fatherhood conference.
  • There’s Thomas Gesterkamp, the author of several books on men’s issues, including “The New Fathers between Child and Career.
  • There’s Markus Theunert, president of maenner.ch, an organization that unites all men’s and father’s groups in Switzerland
  • Andreas Goosses, spokesman of Forum Männer, a Germany-wide group which focuses on men’s issues

As we build our global links through International Men’s Day and other activities, we look forward to learning more about how different nations are approaching the challenging issues of working for men and boys.

Thanks to Tony Stott of Healing Men for bringing this to our attention via Michael Buchanan.

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About

Glen Poole is Director of the Helping Men consultancy, UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, host of the National Conference for Men and Boys and editor of the Good Men Project's International Men's Movement section. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at http://helpingmenblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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5 comments on “German Government Funds Men’s Conference
  1. Marti says:

    The conference and the linked organizations in your post are PRO-FEMINIST. Thomas Gesterkamp, Markus Theunert and Andreas Gooses are openly feminist. As many MRAs in Germany have already noticed, the focus of this conference is less about improving the situation of men rather than thinking about things men can do to support woman more.

    Quite purposefully, MRAs that are openly sceptical about feminism were not admitted to the conference.

    So as you link German MRA sites, please do not forget to mention examples from the non-feminist wing of the MRA:
    http://manndat.de
    http://agensev.de
    http://www.antifeminismus.ch/

    • glenpoole says:

      Thanks for those additional links Marti, looking from the outside the German minister’s stance and the focus on issues such as boy’s educational underachievement and men’s short life expectancy suggest that this a shift away from the standard ‘men and gender’ approach that the only reason to engage men and boys in gender equality is to help tackle women’s issues (eg engaging men and boys in campaigns to end violence against women and girls but not supporting campaigns to end violence against men and boys – or promoting greater involvement of fathers to support mums when couples live together, but not supporting moves to help fathers stay involved when couples separate)

      And it is also notable that issues like tackling male suicide, supporting male victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, tackling fatherlessness and the lack of male role models are not mentioned in the original article. These are some of the areas where non-feminist approaches may have a bigger role to play in pushing the agenda on men’s issues forward

      Thanks for taking time to share the perspective of MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) in Germany

  2. milactivist says:

    A very good start towards the upliftment of the problems of men .

  3. Jose says:

    This is great news, finally some serious attention and support for men’s rights from the government. They’ve been neglecting it for decades.

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