Traditional gender roles are changing. More women are becoming breadwinners while some men have to take care of their children in the home.
On Saturday, 275 men and boys over the age of 13 took one step closer to equipping themselves to deal with these changes as they graduated from the Defining Masculine Excellence, and the Food Preparation and Home Management for Men and Boys programmes.
The joint ceremony took place at the Trinity College Auditorium, Trincity where Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Gender and Child Affairs Division, Ayanna Webster-Roy, addressed them. “These shifting gender roles affect the social situation for men and boys, challenging their ideology of manhood,” she said. “The Government recognises the need for policies to address issues affecting both men and women at different levels, particularly if we are to fulfill our commitment to gender equality and equity.”
She told the audience the Defining Masculine Excellence programme assisted in the reduction in domestic violence, depression and other issues. She described it as a space where men could share their feelings openly and without reproach, that it could help men overcome negative stereotypes, and understand their importance within the family and community.
She said one of the three cycles of the programme targeted men in the protective service. She said Government recognised they carried additional burdens and stress and hoped the programme would provide them with extra coping skills, and help them assist men and boys they encounter in their line of work.
To the 80 graduates of the Defining Masculine Excellence programme she said, “Women are able to achieve and do more but we can’t do it without the supporting shoulders and push of the men in our lives. So regardless of what we may say to you, know that you are still valued for your leadership roles, know that you are still valued for your companionship, and know that you are still valued for the role you play in shaping and defining our beautiful nation.” Webster-Roy explained the 195 Food Preparation graduates learned basic cooking skills and the art of fine dining in the hopes of encouraging males to participate in more non-traditional activities at home. She said some men were willing to share in these roles but lack the knowledge to do it and used her family as an example. She said when she entered public life, her husband became the primary caregiver for their children. At first he could not cook well but he learned and is now “exceptional.” She said she came home from a hectic day at the office and he had made bake. “Well he was quite rewarded for his bake.”
She told the graduates women appreciated and found it attractive when they did “other things” and encouraged them all to pursue more knowledge and enlightenment, not only for their benefit as women find that attractive as well.