Gender violence is relatively common against “the other” (those not identified as heterosexual males). In a broad sense, the Salvadoran culture functions within a patriarchal structure, where men often work and provide for the family financially, while women stay at home to raise the children and perform the necessary household chores. This often results in a hierarchical structure, and can lead to negative views towards “the other”. We visited a masculinities workshop in order to further educate ourselves and to share these experiences with those in the U.S.A.
What are the social justice issues?
Gender inequity and gender violence remains an issue in El Salvador for several reasons. From a social status perspective, “the others” tend to be viewed as inferior to heterosexual men, and as a consequence, “the others” usually receive less education, income, medical attention, and respect from the culture as a whole. It’s not just one cause that creates this injustice–rather it’s a variety of cultural, political, and economic factors that contribute to this system. Similar to the U.S.A., this issue is evolving for the better, albeit slowly, and those in power tend to resist the progress.
The masculinities workshop offered us detailed knowledge and practical exercises that allowed for a deeper understanding of gender issues in El Salvador. Overall, they (San Bartolome de Las Casas) take a three-tiered approach in striving towards gender equality.
1. They work with men to sensitize them.
2. They work with women to inform them of the men’s progress.
3. They work with men and women together to create trust and cohesion.
Perhaps we can incorporate this approach into our practices in the U.S.A. as well. It starts with educating those in power–men–and forming alliances with other groups, organizations, and coalitions that support equality in other justice areas.