News / Asia

    Q&A with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: 'He for She'

    FILE - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
    FILE - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
    Frances Alonzo
    Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of United Nations Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is unveiling a new campaign, called the "He for She" campaign, to promote the involvement of men to take a stand for women's rights. The campaign flips the paradigm of "women’s rights" by bringing men's voices into the fold and encouraging them to speak out for change.
     
    Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke to VOA's Frances Alonzo and explains how the campaign aims to raise awareness that fighting for women's rights is not for women to solve alone.
     

    MLAMBO-NGCUKA:  This is about recruiting boys and men to be part of the struggle for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Ensuring that the changes that are needed for women do not only depend on women; that men also play a role.
     
    ALONZO: Why this approach?
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA:   This is because men also need to be able to play a role. They have a significant role; they are part and parcel of creating the challenges that women face, especially, in relation to violence against women. I have a way of framing this, it's called the "SHE" imperative.  What the "SHE" imperative does it summarizes the critical things that we want men and of course women to continue to do. S stands for safety, because women are abused, women experience violence, and therefore security is an issue. And the H stands for human rights because there is a high violation of women's rights in all countries in the world. And E is for empowerment, especially empowering women to be effective leaders and to participate in decisions that affect them.
     
    ALONZO: How can we encourage men to speak out in the way where they can “save face,” so to speak?
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA: This is why one is not accusing men; we are actually inviting them because we believe that the majority of men do not want to see women abused. We are just saying that by being silent, they actually conspire for the perpetration of violence against women to continue. But if they take action, if they come out and if they stand on the right side of history, then they will be able to make a change.
     
    ALONZO: Is there any particular aspect of this that stands out regarding Asian men?
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA: Asian men are not different from the men in Africa, in Latin America, in Middle East. To some extent, you actually need the men in powerful positions to buy into this. You need heads of state to speak out, you need religious leaders to speak up, you need captains of industry to speak up. And those are the people that were going to be using for the "He for She" campaign as these spokespersons for the campaign, people that men can identify with soccer players, rugby players, cricket players in the context of Asia that you are raising.
     
    ALONZO: So this, in essence, gives permission or a forum to positively advocate for women in a way that's not offensive to other men in their environment?
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA: To also make the man take responsibility; that’s the biggest thing that the man could take responsibility and also to demonstrate through the initiatives that they will be undertaking, that by empowering women you actually make a difference not just for the women, but you make a difference for society and humanity. And this is the message that needs to come from people who are leading. Because ordinary men may not necessarily look at it that way, especially those that may have negative attitudes towards women empowerment but leaders must be able to say that.
     
    ALONZO: Do you have any particular statistics or information with regards to men in Asia and their attitudes toward women?
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA: There was a study that was done not so long ago which involved young men in three Asian countries and this study was focusing on sexual violence against women. In that study, most of the young men - which was really disturbing - did not think that rape was a problem. They actually felt that when women were beaten up it was because they had done something wrong and they needed to be punished; also that to have sexual relations with women against their will is not something that is a violation; men are entitled to it. This has been very, very disturbing, because it means that there are social issues there that need to be dealt with.
     
    ALONZO: What comes to mind, the recent events in India, they have been in the news unfortunately for more than a year now with high profile rape cases.
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA: Yes, but you see that in India also there was a reaction by the government, there was a reaction by the public, which included men. In that context, we would like to see the kinds of men that that we are identifying to work with have a sustained campaign because you do have men’s organizations now in different parts of the world. I'm hoping that this campaign will encourage and liberate men who did not even understand that they had a role to play, to actually come up and join those organizations that are standing up and fighting violence against women.
     
    ALONZO: Child brides seem to be quite problematic in several Asian countries.
     
    MLAMBO-NGCUKA:  In those countries where there are child marriages, this is also one of the biggest violations against girls that we are facing. And that we need men also to stand up and to speak against it, we need fathers, brothers to actually take action to stop this practice. Children are also trafficked in Europe and in the US at a very young age. So again, we need people not to look the other way. We need parents, we need people in the neighborhood that identify these practices to come up. All that we are calling for is for people to stand up and to speak out against these practices. It is expected that about 15 million girls before the age of 19 will be forced into marriages in the next 10 years unless we take action now and reverse the trend.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora