I met Lizette Ruíz Castillo during a Monthly Open Mic in San Andrés Cholula called Pulques Feministas, where women and men can discuss issues surrounding gender inequality, violence against women, sexual and reproductive rights, and most importantly, how we can tackle them.
Liz is President of the Colectivo Equilátera, a civil association that provides the community with skills and knowledge to generate new patterns of behavior and relationships through sexual health and education for peace that lead to a better quality of life. I asked her if I could interview her to see what project they are supporting and hands down, this is one of the best projects I’ve encountered so far.
Colectivo Equilátera is a group of psychologists, lawyers, educators and musicians, among others, who offer different services to the community in Puebla, the fourth largest state in Mexico. Among these are psychotherapy with gender perspective, legal advice, workshops, conferences, consultancy, graduates. Right now, one of the projects they are supporting is Hombres Trabajando(Se) which roughly translates to “Men working on themselves”.
This project is a program of reeducation to question how men have absorbed norms of violence throughout their lives. It gives them a chance to deconstruct their ideas, to be reassembled during the course of the program. This complements the activities promoting gender equality and education for peace that Equilatera promotes.
“When men attend regularly for a while, they begin to understand more deeply the forms of violence and their impact, as well as the different manifestations of inequality between men and women. Their empathy begins to grow. If they continue to go regularly for a year (or more), their relationships with themselves and their surroundings improve significantly; it is possible to communicate with them on a more intimate level. They can show a greater respect for those around them.”
Hombres Trabajando(se) program is helping to reduce the gender gap in daily life. It reduces the rates of violence in relationships and it’s hoping to reduce the rates of femicide.
Liz states that the project still has an incipient impact, as it is difficult for men to attend voluntarily and to be consistent. One of the attendees has admitted that it is an extremely difficult process, to acknowledge how you’ve promoted gender based violence and to whom you’ve exercised it. This project hopes to become a tool for change, which could be replicated in different parts of Latin America or the world. For this, it needs to reach more people and encourage them to attend regularly, since attendees become future facilitators.
How can we help Equilatera and Hombres Trabajando(se)?
One of the biggest challenges is simply to let people know these projects and programs EXIST. It’s a common misconception that projects like these are aimed at those who may be cognitively impaired, or that they are expensive and therefore unaffordable. So help us give a shout-out to these projects in your communities or on social media.
If you would like more information on how you can mimic these efforts in your own community, or learn more about Equilatera and what they are doing to fight gender inequality in Mexico, please feel free to comment!