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If a man helps his wife, his identity isn’t damaged - it’s the opposite

If a man helps his wife, his identity isn’t damaged - it’s the opposite
How WFP is promoting gender equality in Lebanon

During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the World Food Programme (WFP) and ABAAD (Resource Centre for Gender Equality), a Lebanese NGO that focuses on gender equality, are working with Lebanese and Syrian refugee communities across Lebanon to raise awareness about gender issues.

Participants in WFP’s livelihoods programmes are invited to gatherings to discuss what masculinity means for men in Lebanon and Syria. This initiative is designed to provide an opportunity for both men and women to talk openly about gender issues and to share personal experiences.

During one session in Tal Maayan village in the north, Lebanese livelihoods participant Yehya explained to a group: “If a man helps his wife, his identity isn’t damaged — it’s the opposite. My wife and children are my allies. We are a team and we share our tasks equally around the house.”

All 40,000 participants are vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees who also benefit from WFP’s livelihood projects in cities across Lebanon. These livelihoods projects — entirely funded by a generous US$32 million from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ — are designed in collaboration with local municipalities to enhance community assets and provide skills development training for vulnerable men and women.

WFP and ABAAD are also running a basic life-skills training project for Lebanese and Syrian women who are either at risk of, or are survivors of gender-based violence. Through the training, these women gain skills to improve confidence and resilience.

There are numerous components to the training, including: self-empowerment classes intended to enhance self-confidence; communication skills lessons intended to equip participants to more effectively communicate with their partners, family members and adolescents; sessions on addressing emotions as war, displacement, poverty and violence are known to diminish mental and social health; and gender equality and gender-based violence discussions which focus on partnerships between men and women and specifically how women’s empowerment can also work to empower their communities.

“It really touched me that there are people within the local community that care about my well-being.” — Nofa.

“I am struggling with depression,” Nofa, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, explained. “But the training helped me gain self-confidence I never knew I could have. It really touched me that there are people within the local community that care about my well-being.”

Trainings provide women with numerous opportunities to discuss social and household issues that affect them and offer a safe judgement-free space to highlight cases of domestic violence or early marriage among their peers.

“Through those discussions, we can break the silence around early marriage,” Jomana Merhi who is one of ABAAD’s basic life skill instructors says. “But the sessions are more than talking. They offer a chance to build bridges between Syrian refugees and Lebanese host communities who have faced similar struggles, which is vital as conflict-related gender-based violence, particularly early marriage, increases.”

Gender equality is a prerequisite for a #ZeroHunger world. That is only possible when all people — women, men, girls and boys — can exercise their human rights, including the right to adequate food. Pursuing gender equality and women’s empowerment, Sustainable Development Goal 5, is a cornerstone in WFP’s work in Lebanon.