By: Yonnier Angulo Rodríguez.
The Ibero-American and African Network of Masculinities had as a background the workshops for Non-Violence and for the culture of peace in countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain and Portugal, which were promoted by different institutions such as the Cuban Movement for Peace, the Michoacan Institute of Women and the Community of Ibero-American Forums COFI. In 2006, it was proposed to create an autonomous space in which people from both the academic and activist worlds who were interested in promoting equitable relations between men and women would be integrated. The General Coordination was carried out by Dr. Julio César González Pagés, a prestigious researcher in studies of masculinities in Ibero-America and author of the book Macho Varón Masculino. Studies of Masculinities in Cuba. The motivation arose as a need to debate topics that men generally feel very uncertain and are unable to exteriorize due to the learning of a hegemonic model of masculinity. Also because these institutions had systematically convened, from 1996 to that date, workshops with social workers, university students, police officers, prisoners, various ethnic and racial groups, local leaders, among others, with the common idea of discussing their main problems and proposing alternatives for change for men. RIAM’s objectives are fundamentally based on sensitizing, training and supporting the different campaigns and local or national initiatives in the different problems that are developed in our societies, in which the work with men becomes necessary. To promote change in men and that they establish equal relationships with women. All this by establishing a strong link between the Academy and Activism, that is to say, taking advantage of the potential of one or the other area in order to eradicate gender discrimination, violence and machismo. Likewise, to encourage the study of gender theory and the theoretical approaches that have been developed since the 1980s in the study of masculinities, especially in young populations. The implemented work has had among its main scenarios the Cuban society and its problems, but it has not been limited to the Caribbean country. Work has also been carried out in different Latin American countries and in 2012 included collaboration with scholars and activists from the African continent. Based on systematic work with men -without excluding women- mainly between the ages of 7 and 65, a series of workshops, training and awareness-raising meetings, modules in university faculties both at undergraduate and graduate levels on issues of masculinity have been held, with various groups of men from different spheres of society as the recipients. The facilitators of such activities have been university professors and students, specialists in gender and masculinity issues, women’s rights activists, For Non-Violence and Culture of Peace, highlighting the interest of artists and athletes in the issues. It is worth mentioning that since 2006, numerous Conferences on the Study of Masculinities have been held in Havana, Pinar del Río and Matanzas (Cuba) and in Pachuca (Mexico), thus promoting theoretical development and debates on the study of masculinities. In this sense, numerous inter-university gatherings in campuses in Cuba, Argentina and Spain, served to make the main theorists of masculinities of the Anglo-Saxon and Latin American world reach university students of these countries. In the last three years, within the RIAM, the work with sportsmen and artists has been promoted, in a formation and sensitization, especially in the topic of the NONVOLENCE towards the Women and the Girls, and in this sense to favor the use of these leaders of opinion in campaigns of culture of peace from the masculinities. The campaign The Brave One is not Violent, launched by the United Nations has been one of the pillars in which RIAM has captured and advised opinion leaders for the dissemination of messages of Nonviolence. The alliance with other projects that take the issues from the work with women and feminism has also been crucial in RIAM’s journey, taking through national tours the debates and updated knowledge on issues such as gender violence, men’s sexual health, fatherhood, feminism, among other topics. RIAM from the beginning had the support of several governmental and international cooperation institutions. The Federation of Cuban Women has been a fundamental ally in the proposed work, as well as other entities: Editorial de la Mujer, the Universities of Havana, Pinar del Río and Matanzas , without leaving aside the United Nations System in Cuba and the Havana Office of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (COSUDE), which promoted the articulation of a platform called the Gender and Equity Program with National Impact (PEGIN), with RIAM being a member and in charge of mainstreaming the issue of masculinities in the other member programs. The pedagogical-methodological proposals made have been established according to the type of activity to be carried out and with the group to be worked on. For example, in the implementation of workshops, as a guideline the methodology used has been associated with participatory or popular education, which promotes interactive learning and generates knowledge from the experiences of the participants, without absolute truths, but the creation of spaces for reflection. We also invite the analysis of bibliographic, documentary and publication sources, as well as communicative products. The Ibero-American and African Network of Masculinities has been a space that among its achievements stands out for having propitiated reflections and debates in numerous groups of different societies. Thanks to its creation, certain researches have come to light, filling gaps in Cuban and Latin American academia on gender and masculinities issues. From the activism has served to highlight issues that are necessary attention, such as gender violence, attracting opinion leaders from the world of art and sports, with a strong impact on the media, who convey messages of peace and non-violence to women and girls. The main obstacle in the objectives pursued remains the patriarchal culture in which the societies and groups receiving them are immersed. As Dr. Julio César González Pagés has stated on several occasions, patriarchal culture and education are the greatest barriers to be overcome in order to achieve gender equality and eradicate machismo.