Men's role in society in the spotlight

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pietermaritzburg - Thousands of men from across KwaZulu-Natal gathered to take part in the provincial Men's Imbizo in Pietermaritzburg.

KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize said there were problems facing communities which will not be resolved by coming up with new laws, but can only be dealt with when communities come together to discuss them.

"When we talk about women's rights, some men think this means the emasculation or the disempowerment of men. This is not true, because all nations that prosper can only achieve this through mutual respect and the working together of both men and women," said Mkhize.

Mkhize said people needed to come to an understanding regarding the roles of each individual in society, regardless of gender.

He made reference to Mkabayi, the daughter of Inkosi Jama - one of the founding fathers of the Zulu nation - who was able to take a decision that even men could not take in order to see the advancement of the Zulu nation, despite being a woman.

"Some of the problems that are big challenges in our community continue just because there is no one who is helping the younger generations as they grow. Sometimes, all it took was members of the community coming together to give advice and to reprimand when things get out of hand," said Mkhize.

He said in the past, there were mistakes that one would not dare make, out of fear of bringing disrepute to his peers.

"Young people are dying in droves, and this is largely due to HIV infections. Men need to be in the forefront of this fight against HIV infections because if men look after themselves, their women won't be infected.

"Many women end up contracting the virus, even though they have never left their matrimonial home. This means that some men find themselves in situations and bring the virus back home," said Mkhize.

Mkhize also spoke about rampant teenage pregnancies, which often result in abortions.

"I seriously doubt that a woman would opt for an abortion if her partner were to say 'I will come to your family and we'll discuss how we deal with the matter'," he said.

"Some men want to be feared and to be known as notorious. That is not how a real man behaves. What sets you apart as a real man is how you plan your things and how you care for your family," said MEC for Economic Development Mike Mabuyakhulu.

Earlier this week, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe ñ speaking at the National Womenís Conference in Johannesburg ñ said a change of attitude and behaviour in society was what was needed to fulfill the goal the goal of the emancipation and empowerment of women.

He alluded to strategies, including men and boys getting an education in gender equality, which work to help level the playing field for women.

The KZN menís indaba comes as South Africa celebrates the strength and role of women as equal partners in society.-