Ministry for Foreign Affairs with UN Women Iceland
Ministry for Foreign Affairs / UN Women Iceland
Why is it called a Barbershop? Most men have been to a barbershop or a locker room. These are spaces where men talk to each other and where behaviours and attitudes about gender relations - including what it means to be a man - are learned, discussed and reinforced. While relations between men and women are often discussed among men in barbershops, these conversations too often reflect the stereotyped roles of women and men, and rarely tackle serious issues at the root of gender inequality.
The Barbershop was an initiative taken by Iceland and Suriname in 2014 inspired by the HeForShe campaign and the Geneva Gender Champions initiative. The first conference was co-convened by the UN and the permanent representations of Iceland and Suriname to the UN, held at the United Nations in New York on 14-15 January 2105.
At the current rate, gender equality will not be reached until the year 2133. Something has to change. With men largely missing from the debate on equality, we are playing with only half the team. This is what the Barbershop is all about. It’s a training camp of sorts, designed to equip men with the tools they need to take on an active role in achieving equality.
Barbershop events provide a setting for male-to-male discussions and reflections about their own behaviours, privileges, and roles creating barriers for women‘s empowerment and how men can instead become agents of change in realising gender equality. This way, the Barbershop platform encourages men to make a proactive commitment to gender equality at an individual and collective level, inspire other men to join them and bring the discourse on gender equality to barbershops and locker rooms around the world.
A Barbershop Conference to be organized in the respective recipient countries. The Government of Iceland has sperheaded a dialogue, conferences, the so called Barbershops, where the aim is to raise awareness among men, to stress their role, responsibilities as well as opportunities. Its purpose is to motivate “men and boys to commit to upholding gender equality.”
Iceland has developed a Barbershop Toolbox to enable others to mobilize the men around them for gender equality. The Toolbox is part of Iceland's commitments to the HeForShe movement and can be accessed on the movement’s website.