March4Women London!

Good Lad Initiative joined the March4Women on Sunday March 4th! We started walking from Westminster, London, UK.

We marched for gender equality along with thousands of other women, men, children and pets. We marched from the Houses of Parliament over to Trafalgar Square, following the historic march of the Suffragettes.

Under Nelson’s column in the Square, speeches, music and celebrations were held to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage in the UK.

The Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, spoke inspirational words to the crowd on the very spot where her great-grandmother made her history-changing speech.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, proudly said “I am a feminist” and reiterated his commitment to making London equal for all.

Annie Lennox televised her message to the Square from giant screens. So many musicians, celebrities, comediennes gave their time to speak and entertain. It was a truly inspirational atmosphere and a fantastic feeling to be there!

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What is the Good Lad Initiative? GLI runs workshops with trained facilitators in all-male school classrooms, for pupils aged 12-18. The workshops address issues of gender equality and masculinity. We encourage young men to talk openly using the media of role playing, games and exercises.

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It’s Back to School for Ben

 

It was back to school for Ben on Wednesday, courtesy of the charity “The Good Lad Initiative”!

The Good Lad Initiative targets young men (13-18 years old) with issues relating to gender equality, and aims to get them thinking differently about what it means—and how to cope—with being a young man in today’s challenging world.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a two day training course to become a volunteer facilitator for this charity. During the training, questions were posed, exercises undertaken and role playing explored in fun but intense sessions that equipped volunteers with the tools to enter schools and share thought-provoking material with all-male classes.

Wednesday was our chance to round out the training, witnessing experienced qualified programme facilitators in action.

Man-up?

I was one of ten volunteers this day who attended a charming school a few miles outside the metropolis. We watched the leaders present the syllabus to classes of up to 24 pupils. Under the watchful gaze of some of the boys’ curious teachers, our diverse teams of two addressed stereotyping, sexual assault, emotions, violence, consent, objectification, sexual identity etc.

Did you know that 75% of suicides are by men (Office of National Statistics) and that in 2016, 95% of prisoners were male (UK Govt.)? That two women a week are killed in the UK by a violent partner and that on average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police (Jaffee, 1982). Pretty disturbing stuff.

Sowing, not preaching

Sowing seeds was what it was all about. Not preaching. Discussion and participation were encouraged and I was impressed with how the volunteers handled the trickier boys. And the trickier teachers.

It was fascinating unravelling the thinking processes of the young with their unexpected answers; it was great to share their enthusiasm. At times, it looked like the boys were saying what was expected of them, but our well-trained teams had techniques for dealing with that too. One volunteer stunned me by memorising every boys’ name in five minutes—he even got the twins right (after spotting that their glasses were a different shade)!

A great day

The day was about the boys and I left with the impression that it had been most worthwhile. Their feedback slips certainly reinforced this impression.

I look forward to my next school session at which I won’t observe. No, I’ll leap boldly outside my comfort zone and participate as an active facilitator!

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The Good Lad Initiative “aims to promote “Positive Masculinity”, and in doing so, to enable men to deal with complex gender situations and become agents of positive change within their social circles and broader communities. To achieve this fundamental objective, GLI seeks to engage with organizations and individuals of all genders and backgrounds.”

Their “evidence based intervention has been developed with leading academics and experts in gender and sexual discrimination from around the world. Critically both men and women work at every level of Good Lad to ensure [their] work is accountable to women.”

You can find out more at www.goodladworkshop.com