Friday, July 03, 2009

The Man Up Campaign

Since I left Soroti and The Goat Project, I have been working for the Man Up Campaign, meeting with local partners in Kampala, Goma, Kigali, and -- starting tomorrow --Johannesburg. These local partners are small, grassroots organizations working within their own communities, with youth, to seriously address the issue of Violence Against Women -- largely through music, dance, art, film/theater, or sports. I am inspired and motivated by the energy and dedication I see in these programs and the in the people who lead them. This may be the best job in the world! Man Up does not have its website running quite yet, but since I have been asked to explain the campaign over e-mail quite a lot, I thought I might share here a bit more about the initiative, its goals, and the plan. (Note: I did not write the following. It was created as a collaborative effort of our incredible team to share with partners and donors)

Man Up is an international call to action for young adults to eradicate violence against women (VAW) using music, sport, and technology. On the occasion of one of the largest gatherings in the world, World Cup 2010 in South Africa, Man Up will host a global youth summit with the goals of supporting organizations tackling VAW, building a network of youth advocates and defenders, and linking the efforts of small local projects and mainstream organizations with the corporate, entertainment and sports communities.

The fact that one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime is a reality that must be addressed, forcefully. This is a five-year campaign, but the rewards will potentially extend for generations. Already there's a momentum to make this happen. This campaign will succeed with the support of artists, entrepreneurs, activists, athletes, educators, and concerned citizens "manning up"-whether they are male or female-and saying that gender violence against women must end. It's not just a women's issue, it's everyone's issue. Man Up is a call to action for the next generations to do things differently.

The Man Up Youth Summit will bring together a diverse group of 200 young men and women aged approximately eighteen to twenty-five years representing 32 World Cup competing nations and 18 at-risk countries, who are committed to eradicating VAW within their communities. Summit participants will be given the tools they need-and want-to plan and execute proposed initiatives, including seed grants with the support of a worldwide network of NGO partners. A multi-functional website will facilitate communication, on-going training and global advocacy.

The Summit is action-oriented. The purpose is to help participants make their ideas into real projects. Workshops are focused on skill building and provide the participants with the tools necessary to execute their projects and be advocates against VAW. The Summit will introduce various training and teaching techniques, particularly those that address and utilize relevant cultural influences and forces, namely hip-hop and sports, both of which have been extremely successful in youth-based development.

Renowned speakers and practitioners will join the Summit to promote the Man Up agenda and offer their own experience and perspective to the youth delegates.

Following the summit, a global virtual network will launch, providing participants with training, access to experts and additional resources. The network will be an action-based advocacy hub with a myriad of tools to empower GBV youth activists around the world.

It is Man Up’s aspiration that year-by-year, through strengthened NGO (non-governmental organization) and governmental partnerships, the number of grantees will grow and that past grantees will sustain their projects with the assistance of Man Up-developed tools and resources. We hope to reconvene in Brazil in 2014, prior to the World Cup.

Man Up is led by Jimmie Briggs, a former reporter with LIFE magazine, and now a New York-based writer, teacher and freelance journalist. Over the last decade, he has focused professionally on child soldiers and the lives of war-affected children in writing for publications such as The Village Voice, The Source, El Pais, People, Essence among others. A National Magazine Award finalist and recipient of honors from the Open Society Institute, National Association of Black Journalists, Alicia Patterson Foundation and Carter Center, among others, his book on child soldiers and war-affected children, Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War, was published in 2005. He is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities. Briggs’ presentations on civil rights and diversity issues, human rights abuse in war-affected countries and child welfare have brought considerable attention to issues often discarded in the general media. Briggs has worked for the UN Special Session on Children, Seeds of Peace in both New York City and Kabul, Afghanistan, as well as numerous other organizations including Oxfam, Amnesty International and the ENOUGH Project. He has received distinguished fellowships for his writing and advocacy, and his work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Vibe, Outside, and Fortune, Additionally, he has served as an adjunct professor of investigative journalism at the New School for Social Research, and was a George A. Miller Visiting Professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana. His next book, to be published in 2010, is The Wars Women Fight: Dispatches from A Father to His Daughter.