NGO's Collaborate on IDB Project to Develop Male Adolescents as "Agents of Change"

Head table leading the discussions. From left: Ms. Neeca Brathwaite, Senior Operations Associate, IDB Country Office, T&T; Mr. Kevin Liverpool, Administrator, CARIMAN; Ms. Laurence Telson, Senior Operations Specialist, Gender and Diversity Division, Social Sector of the IDB and Mr. Micheal Stewart, Founder and President of BMEN.Head table leading the discussions. From left: Ms. Neeca Brathwaite, Senior Operations Associate, IDB Country Office, T&T; Mr. Kevin Liverpool, Administrator, CARIMAN; Ms. Laurence Telson, Senior Operations Specialist, Gender and Diversity Division, Social Sector of the IDB and Mr. Micheal Stewart, Founder and President of BMEN.

“We have a proposal that seeks to promote healthy masculinity and increase empathy among our men and boys.” This according to Ms. Laurence Telson, Senior Operations Specialist, Gender and Diversity Division, Social Sector of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Ms. Telson was the main guest at a meeting convened by the BMEN organisation at the newly established Blue Room, Fort King George, Tobago. The meeting was held on 30th January, 2020 and comprised representatives of some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that work with men and boys. In addition to BMEN, these groups included Choice Foundation, Tobago Prisons Youth Clubs and Rights of Passage Boys to Men.

In setting the context for the proposed project, Ms. Telson said “within the Caribbean, we have many commonalities as it pertains how men are raised, which are both positive and negative. The negatives include domestic violence (DV) against women and girls.” She added, “Research [done by the IDB] suggests that in the Caribbean, many DV perpetrators are school drop outs and verbal abuse accounted for a high incidence of drop outs in school.” Ms. Telson explained that with this information, they developed a project to target adolescents 13-16 years old, which is entitled “Adolescents as Agents of Change”

Ms Telson explained the three phases of the project, Phase one includes a barbershop initiative, where they will work directly with the target group to promote healthy masculinity, increase empathy and treat with issues such as gender equality, sex and sexuality etc. She further explained that the barbershop concepts have seen success worldwide, because it is an ideal space where many men and boys are captured and engaged in a meaningful way.

Phase two involves a pilot, virtual reality programme to reach adolescents with the same type of information to make them “Agents of Change.” This will involve the use of virtual reality (games etc) to promote positive changes in gender behaviours / attitudes. Phase three involves the provision of training to increase the capacity of NGOs to better manage their projects in areas such as finance, lobbying, project management, and promotion of their work. The IDB will also be working with the University of the West Indies to provide training on gender issues in the context of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).

Key persons who were also in attendance included Ms. Neeca Brathwaite, Senior Operations Associate, IDB Country Office, T&T; Mr. Kevin Liverpool, Administrator, Caribbean Male Action Network (CARIMAN). Additionally, all the NGOs represented at the meeting presented information on the work they are currently doing in Tobago to impact men and boys, and they gave feedback on the proposed IDB project, and ways it can be improved to impact the target audience more effectively. The IDB representatives took notes of all the feedback to identify areas they can provide support and the various opportunities that can be used to integrate the proposed IDB project on the Island.

BMEN (Be Male Examples Now) is an NGO that was founded by Michael A.T. Stewart on November 19th 2015 to develop male mentors; celebrate male achievers; focus on Men’s health; bring awareness to discrimination against men; improve male and female relationships; encourage quality family life and make our country a safer place.

The Blue Room Men’s Health Service was commissioned on Tuesday 19th November, 2019. It is the first of its kind on the island of Tobago, which is space that pays closer attention to men and men’s health particularly physical, psychological, and social. BMEN is a partner of the Blue Room thus the significance of hosting such a meeting at the Blue Room, to positively impact men and boys.

All men can access the services at the Blue Room free of charge. Contact the Blue Room at 778-8571 for more details.

 

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