Men are joining the movement against violence against women like never before. The One Million Men. One Million Promises campaign is using video to unify and amplify their voices.
By Mallika Dutt, One Million Men. One Million Promises
We have struggled to end violence against women for as long as any of us can remember. Today, finally, I believe we stand at a global tipping point. As we all know, unprecedented attention and worldwide outrage have surged in the wake of a series of increasingly shocking — and increasingly visible — acts of violence from Delhi to Cairo, and from Bredasdorp, South Africa to Steubenville, Ohio. Journalists, activists, and others have made it clear that all such incidents are expressions of one shared global problem. The world is watching, and the world is responding.
And we’re using video to unify and amplify those responses:
Perhaps most important, and perhaps now more than ever, men and women are responding together. We saw men’s outrage after the events in Delhi, Steubenville, and Cairo. We saw Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings launch an initiative calling on the men of his city to stand up against domestic violence. More and more men are understanding that men’s violence against women is not a ‘women’s issue’ or a ‘private matter.’ It is a human issue and a human rights issue, and it hurts us all. Only when all of us are safe can all of us thrive. So increasing numbers of men are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with women to protest rape, sexual harassment, and gender-based violence and discrimination.
In my experience, men often want to do something but don’t know what to do. That’s why One million men. One million promises asks men to commit to actionable promises that can reduce the inequality and violence. The campaign asks men from around the world to look at themselves — their own attitudes, homes, schools, workplaces, and spheres — and to promise to change what they see. And they have. Politicians, actors, comedians, ambassadors, musicians, schoolteachers, religious leaders, businesspeople, and beyond have all begun to deliver their actionable promises.
We have found that these promises are most effectively conveyed through face-to-camera testimonials. These candid, raw, and authentic outpourings play an important role in continuing the momentum towards one million promises. Beyond the inherent celebrity novelty in many of these clips, the video promises also offer a means of visceral connection not found in scripted, polished messaging. These are not glossy PSAs, which risk causing a disconnect between those making the promises and those that view them. Instead, the video promises are austere and brutally honest ways for high-profile men to reach out to men around the world, without the distancing often associated with celebrity endorsement. Much akin to the ‘It Gets Better’ methodology, this approach allows for a uniformity of form to match the uniformity and solidarity of message.
And when both men and women out there feel unified in the single struggle to end violence against women, individual actions will add up, and we will see real change.
It’s starting already. Leaders and partners from all around the world have already begun to take action in preparation for the official launch of One million men. on March 8. They are making actionable promises, from disrupting a violent neighbor with a knock at the door to calling out misogynistic street harassment to helping make every space they touch safe and equitable.
And you can too. Continue to check our website for the latest video promises. But more importantly, make your promise. Ask yourself: Am I doing all I can to challenge inequality in my family, classroom, office, military unit, sports team, group of friends? How can I safely interrupt the violent argument I overhear in my building or witness on the subway? What action can I take, just in the world I inhabit and influence? How can I be accountable? Make your own promise, and then share, share, share.
With men as leaders and partners — and everyone working as allies — I believe that our generation will be the one to build a safer world for all.
Mallika Dutt is founder, president, and CEO of global human rights organization Breakthrough and one of today’s most innovative, admired, and effective leaders in cultural transformation.