MenCare Georgia, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has been implementing a one-day training module, Men Talking to Men (MTM) since 2016 in Tbilisi, Kakheti and Samegrelo. Guria and Imereti joined the initiative in 2020, and Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti in 2021.
Men Talking to Men module has been developed in partnership with Equimundo and is based on international practices and surveys. The module has been adapted to the Georgian socio-cultural context by the local facilitators.
At the meeting, facilitators and participants talk in a safe, reliable environment about issues such as:
- Equal distribution of family work
- Equal involvement in raising and caring for children
- Caring for family members
- Identifying the elements of violence and exposing them.
The training module includes interactive exercises, visual learning materials and is based on the principles of non-formal education.
Iase Gagnidze from Telavi is one of those who attended Men Talking to men for the first time. As he says, MTM is different from all the meetings he has participated in so far.
“I have been to many meetings, but MTM was different, in all my past experiences, the conversation was about mothers and motherhood” he says.
According to him, “often all of us have some questions that we can’t talk about out loud, or we don’t have the environment where we can share our thoughts with each other”. That is why it was important for Iase to find out among the members of the group whether the views he had on this or that issue coincided with or differed from each other, and on some issues he changed his mind after hearing and discussing different opinions.
“I saw that I could be wrong about certain issues, and the opinions heard from the participants helped me a lot to form the right view,” says Iase, adding that if he used to consider interactinng in someone else’s family conflict as a wrong step, he changed his mind after attending MTM.
During the group discussion, the group members also agreed that “more positive results can be achieved by talking to children in a friendly, equitable manner, rather than shouting at them or using some punishment mechanisms.”
“I think such meetings will help eliminate certain stereotypes in our communities, at least to ensure that both men and women view themselves as equal family members. As for the moderators of the group, I wish you good luck, I hope you will have many listeners, make progress and achieve your goals, you are doing great job by implementing the project… I wish you would break many stereotypes that negatively influence our judgments,” said Iase Gagnidze.
Yasin Bediev lives in the village of Khuldara in Marneuli Municipality. It was in his own village that he attended the training course “Men Talking to Men”. And, as he says, he learned a great deal “about how to care for each family member, as well as about the roles of men and women in the family, and so on.”
Some of the attendees were young people who had little family-life experience, as well as people whose views differed, although they respected each other’s opinions.
I am a father of a two-month-old baby, I do take care of my child and my wife, but I think that after the training, when I return home, I will be more considerate, caring more for my family member. I will be just as involved in raising my child as is my wife,” says Yasin.
Kristo Khachidze, another participant of the “Men Talking to Men” training course, is from the village of Sakuneti in Akhaltsikhe Municipality. “In rural areas and villages, we do not often have the space or opportunity to talk about the roles of men and women in the family, stereotypes, or other important issues,” says Kristo.
According to him, he learns and analyses a lot by listening to others, which helps him think properly and that puts him on the right track.
Men Talking to Men provides the environment which helps us express our opinions freely. I think meetings like this help people break a lot of stereotypes and enable them to engage in healthy discussions. I learned a lot of new things during the meeting, I even re-evaluated some issues. The training is really useful and I think everyone needs to attend these meetings at least once,” says Kristo.
A study “Men, Women, and Gender Relations in Georgia: Public Perceptions and Attitudes” published in 2020 by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) shows that gender roles are still unequally distributed in Georgia. 60% of men and 38% of women believe that a woman’s main responsibility is to take care of her family rather than pursuing professional career. 47% of mothers and 58% of fathers say they spend equal time playing with their children, although fathers do not have a defined role in caring for their children. 78% of mothers and 76% of fathers say that the mother changes child’s diapers or clothes.