As a movement that mobilises men for equality and against men's violence, we are accountable to the women's movement (in its broadest sense). We need to ensure we contribute to challenging patriarchal ideas and power structures. We view accountability as both an approach and an ongoing process of practicing what we preach.
Our values underpin everything we do – an ambition we share with other value-driven organisations, whether they work with human rights, the environment, LGBTQI+ issues or any other issue. Accountability is particularly important, however, when working with men in a patriarchal society. The fact that society views men as superior to other socially constructed groups creates specific challenges and obligations. Even with the best of intentions, we might inadvertently entrench or exacerbate the very injustices that we are trying to change.
Eager to change norms, MÄN's staff and members still risk acting in a way that might suppress others. As an organisation and as individuals representing MÄN, we thus need to scrutinise and reflect on our own behaviour and accept that it may sometimes need to be altered. Accountability can be understood as a set of basic principles, and practices linked to these principles. We are particularly accountable to women and non-binary individuals, and to organisations/movements through which women challenge the patriarchy's status quo and combat men's violence.
Accountability means respecting the following principles:
Being aware of and questioning one's power and privileges.
Being humble and open to criticism.
Taking responsibility for one's actions and any harm they may have caused.
In practice, accountability may translate into MÄN:
Cooperating with the feminist movement; highlighting its expertise and priorities and taking a step back ourselves.
Ensuring there are people with links to the shelter movement and the feminist movement among our staff and elected representatives.
Taking active steps internally to take responsibility for our power and privileges.
Taking action if we suspect a representative of the organisation of unacceptable behaviour and encouraging them to take responsibility for their actions.
By putting accountability into practice, we acknowledge that our work is rooted in the fight that women and other oppressed groups have fought for decades, and ensure that it contributes to their fight through our own efforts.
As a member of the MenEngage Alliance, MÄN supports the accountability principles and guidelines this global movement has developed. MenEngage's website features more information about accountability. It also contains materials and toolkits for organisations and individuals wanting to discuss equality with men and boys.