MEGEN – Malawi Chapter, is a network of over 50,000 progressive men in Malawi which has sister networks in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Namibia, Mozambique, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, DRC, Tanzania and Angola.
MEGEN, the oldest men’s organization for gender equality in the country, began in 1997 when it originally assembled as the Malawi Human Resource Centre (MHRC). Since its founding, the group has worked tirelessly to espouse “a philosophy of working with men to engage with fellow men.”
MEGEN’S work in Malawi
Men talking to fellow men
MEGEN is actively involved in mobilizing groups of men throughout Malawi. For MEGEN, it’s work focuses on efforts to the prevention and response to gender-based violence and the spread of HIV and AIDS that arises from unequal power relations. In addition to enhancing women’s participation in the public and political spheres, MEGEN also seeks to rectify “men’s negative use of power” and the detrimental impact it can have on relationships. In an attempt to create a sense of “responsibility” and “equality in their minds,” MEGEN is teaching men about HIV and AIDS and the concept of negotiation within sexual relationships.
MEGEN works in 18 of the 28 districts of Malawi, with chapter sizes reaching upwards of 150 active members.
Despite a lack of material resources, MEGEN conducts “tailor-made courses” that provide men with basic training on gender issues, as well as capacity-building workshops. Men are forced to deeply reflect on “what it means to be a man” and “what a real man should be.”
MEGEN’s two key strategies for accomplishing its goals consist of their rapid-response teams and the Men Travelling Conference (MTC). Each local MEGEN chapter organizes a rapid-response team, which responds to cases of abuse that “society is failing to confront.” When news spreads about a potentially dangerous situation, the team travels to the household and tries to resolve the issue through “social dialogue.” If the team is turned away, more extreme measures may be taken, such as contacting the local authorities.
Meanwhile, the MTC aims to end gender-based violence by hiring coaches, including police officers and municipal officials, to reach out to the community and engage others in conversation on eliminating power dynamics that separate men and women.
Today, MEGEN is not alone in trying to engage men in these issues. Other organizations in Malawi are working toward a similar goal of gender equality, but there is little cooperation between them. That’s where the Malawi MenEngage in-country Network could have a huge impact. By creating a forum where every organization that deals with men can interact and share strategies, the network can build on the unique capacities of each partner.