THE VALUE OF ONE, THE POWER OF MANY
This week, I am reflecting on civic responsibility and my role as a citizen as Canada marks National Volunteer Week. With so much going on in Canada and the world right now, from the pandemic, to racism, to poverty, to gender inequality, it may be easier to think small. Easier, but not accurate. As the theme for the week, The Value of One, The Power of Many, underscores, we can—and we must—each contribute to changing the world. In particular, I respectfully suggest it is time for men to step up.
As a young man of colour who benefitted from mentorship and support, I wanted to pay forward this experience. I see it as responsible citizenship and part of my contribution to changing the world.
I identify as an artist, a photographer, and also a grassroots worker. I love building community. In 2017, I was introduced through a friend to Crossroads. Since then, I have become a Crossroader, in spirit and practice.
I STAND FOR POSITIVE MASCULINITY
As one of the issues that motivates me is overcoming toxic masculinity, I was drawn to the Boys4Change program in countries that struggle mightily with this issue, one that can often put women and girls at greater risk of violence.
I also wanted to leverage my own journey overcoming toxic masculinity in support of helping other young men and boys do the same.
Along with my colleague Randell Adjei, I have had two assignments working with WiLDAF’s Boys4Change program in Ghana to help shape and launch the program that challenges and engages boys in the fight for gender equality.
Ghana is a beautiful country that deals with gender inequality, which affects women’s rights, safety, and social and economic well-being. The Boys4Change program is an empowerment program that supports boys to develop healthy and positive relationships with girls and women and to challenge oppressive cultural norms.
MEN ARE CRITICAL TO THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY
Drawing on our experience, we developed a Boys for Change manual focused on transitioning from a boy to a man, safe sex, consent, the rights of women and girls, and goal-setting. We have continued to support WiLDAF’s efforts to implement the program in many schools.
Men are intrinsic to the fight for women’s rights, in Canada and around the world. It is not our fight to lead, but it is our responsibility to help change norms, systems, and laws.
I know from another non-profit I was involved with, RISE, an arts and mentorship organization here in Canada, that change happens slowly, that it requires the value of each and every one of us, and the power of many. It requires each of us contributing, believing, supporting, mentoring.
This is why I am so compelled to speak out on National Volunteer Week and to yell from the rooftops that I am a Crossroader. I urge each of you – men and women – to find your own way of contributing, to help me, to help all of us, change the world.
My name is Anthony Gebrehiwot, and #IAmACrossroader.
Anthony and other talented Crossroaders are featured all National Volunteer Week on our Story Wall, as we share beautiful and impactful photos of their time overseas.