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The Minister of Gender, Children, Disabilty and Social Welfare, Cecilia Chazama launched the Barbershop Tool-box on Friday 30th November, 2018 at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.

The Tool Box is an initiative aimed at creating dialogue in male spaces such as beer halls, religious places and political arenas. The spaces have the power to stop negative social norms and practices that undermine the rights of women and girls.

“The Barbershop Toolbox is a transformative innovation on how best men can act to influence positive change in the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment which aims at changing the narrative by making men the agents of change and defenders of women’s rights. The relevance of launching the barbershop toolbox within the 16 days of activism against gender based violence is that HEForSHE champions can also reflect on the roles in implementing violence against women and girls.” Said the Minister.

Chazama also explained that barbershop represents the various platforms where men meet and converse various matters. “The barbershop Toolbox resonates well with the HeforShe initiative that mobilises men to take deliberate actions as champions for gender equality and men and boys should know that they have a crucial role in eliminating violence against women since they are perpetrators in many cases.”

In her remarks, the UN Women Representative, Clara Anyangwe said that the Barbershop Toolbox is intended to motivate women’s voice into the discourse on gender equality by encouraging male to male discussions in a safe environment and also provides an opportunity for men and women to address gender equality together.

“Through the barbershop toolbox we can look at gender equality on women’s empowerment such as; women political empowerment, economic empowerment, ending child marriages, family planning and HIV/AIDS.” Anyangwe advised.

Speaking during the launch the Charge D’Affairs for ICEIDA, Agusta Gisladottir said that through the HeforShe Movement, men are taking part to sensitise fellow men, build rapport and engage communities in tackling stereotypes and begin to champion change of negative masculinities. The Tool Box therefore  builds synergies and complementarity of efforts.

She added that if gender equality is to be achieved at all levels, there is a need to mobilize men for gender equality, failing which, sustainable and equitable socio-economic and political development will be a far-fetched dream.