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Come Forward

In a Politico op-ed, “Violence against women is no ‘women’s issue’,” Women Thrive Worldwide co-founder & President Ritu Sharma writes:

This lesson has been learned by longtime activists, who have been battling this scourge that affects one in three women globally. Gender-based violence can take many forms: rape and assault used as weapons of war, domestic violence, acid burnings and female infanticide. The list is long.

But ending this violence has one common element: The men who are political leaders — village elders, pastors and mullahs, fathers, brothers, husbands and boyfriends — need to come forward and say stop. [...]

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7 Questions – Rachel Friedman (Men Can Stop Rape, Inc.)

Good morning, Washington. Today, we welcome to “7 Questions” … Rachel Friedman, Director of Foundation and Government Grants at Men Can Stop Rape, Inc. (MCSR), which provides young men with opportunities to challenge old models of masculinity and embrace their duty to end violence against women. MCSR offers a safe forum where young men learn to to form healthy relationships and create safe communities.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

We recently submitted a three-year $5 million grant to the Department of Justice for their multi-state mentoring initiative. It is the largest grant that I have ever written — and the largest grant that the organization has ever taken the lead on. What made it so interesting, however, was designing a project that encompassed so many elements of the work that we do (mentoring, violence prevention, training and technical assistance, community outreach) on such a large scale.

2. What else are you up to?

We are in the planning stages for our next national conference, the “State of Masculinity,” which will be held in October of 2012. The conference will examine the link between violence and masculinity, as well as the value of healthy masculinity; and will also launch a year-long campaign to provide training and technical assistance to selected communities across the country.

3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?

When I was a freshman in high school, a good friend of mine was brutally gang-raped. It was awful. It was so awful that I couldn’t believe that it had happened. But it did. And gender-based violence occurs every day. I feel a profound sense of responsibility to prevent and end that violence. (I am proud to say that I continue to be inspired by this person, who is now pursuing her social work degree, is married, is expecting her first child, and continues to be an amazing woman.)

4. Who is your hero in the nonprofit/philanthropy world?

Rachel Lloyd, the Executive Director and Founder of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), is an amazing woman and GEMS is a phenomenal organization!

5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?

Time. There just aren’t enough hours in the day! I think that’s a universal challenge, though.

6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in your field?

First, fundraising is both a science and magic, so don’t get discouraged! Second, unhealthy masculinity affects everyone, so there is always a connection to be made.

7. What’s next?

I plan on getting my MBA. I’m also getting married in 2012.

EXTRA: If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?
- Catharine MacKinnon
- My great- great- grandmother in Russia
- Dave Chappelle