The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is looking at more ways to have men raise issues that affect them. The Ministry has now planned a men’s forum with the hope of creating a space for men to talk frankly about some of the issues they face.
Manager of the Gender Affairs Bureau (GAB), Adel Lilly explained that the initiative came on the heels of the Ministry’s International Men’s Day rally, last year.
After the rally, there were recommendations that space be created where men can talk openly on varying issues. That triggered the decision to host the regular forum.
“We want to create a safe space for men to talk and I think we create that space men are going to talk. The truth of the matter is, you also have a lot of men who are coming in to the Ministry and are talking. Men are coming in seek an opportunity to talk. Sometimes all they want to do is talk….sometimes we don’t have to give them any advice, they just talk and when they finish talking, you realize everything is going to be okay with them…” he added.
Though the forum may be unable to reach certain areas, the Gender Affairs Bureau Manager said, “we have to try, not sure who we will reach. Of course we would want to go on the ground, go into the community and meet men but with COVID that is not impossible…..”. There are plans to head into communities if the opportunity presents itself…..that is ideal,” Lilly added.
A virtual safe-space for men will be launched on Thursday, January 14. The Ministry in a statement said, during the first hangout, men will have an opportunity to weigh in on how they are Coping With Expectations.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud has said that her Ministry has “heard what the men had to say, and it was only fitting for us to devise programmes that are male-driven. Therefore, it was prudent to create a medium where they can open up to each other without judgment; instead, advice and solutions will be given and friendships formed”.
The weekly one-hour programme will span over a two-month period, and will attract male panelists from various backgrounds to “engage with the men”.
She stated too that, “This is not a forum where men will be lectured. It will be a relaxed atmosphere where men in various environments can relate their anxieties, experiences and encourage each other.” The Minister explained, that “Under the direction of mentors and experts, we want men to walk away from these sessions with a better understanding of how to address their insecurities, coping mechanisms and gain fresh perspectives and advice in their personal development.”
Some of the topics for later discussion will include Men and Mental Health, Expectations of Manhood, Addressing financial problems, the importance of communication, and communication in the family.
Feedback from the sessions will be reviewed and integrated into existing and future programmes to be developed by the Gender Affairs Bureau for men.