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Men fight for greater recognition

Swiss men are feeling the heat Keystone

A new men’s movement has been launched in Bern, with the aim of contributing to the debate about sexual equality and the role of men in society.

This content was published on June 24, 2005 - 17:49

The founders of männer.ch say Swiss men are under increasing pressure and need to restore a healthy balance between work and leisure.

The "forum for men, emancipation and politics" sees itself as an umbrella organisation for men’s groups, and it promises to represent their interests at the federal political level.

Its main goal, according to founding member Andi Geu, is to achieve more gender democracy and equality between men and women.

Geu told swissinfo there was a great need for a forum to address male issues and concerns. He believes that while men still hold the upper hand in political life, this does not mean that matters affecting them are always on the agenda.

Health costs

The Bern-based philosopher and sociologist said men were often under a great deal of pressure at work. Yet health and crime statistics show that they tend to be worse at dealing with stress than women.

"Our working and living conditions are created by a system dominated by men that is not actually representing the interests of a majority of men," he told swissinfo.

"A very important theme for us will be health policy, because there are so many costs resulting from working conditions – so many days of illness, so many psychological problems.

He pointed out that men’s psychological problems inevitably had a negative impact on their families.

"We are not talking enough about the costs that are a consequence of our working and living conditions. I think that if we create a framework offering worthwhile living and working conditions for all of us – men and women – we will be able to reduce those costs enormously."

Pioneering women

Geu conceded that manner.ch would probably not have come about had it not been for the success of the women’s movement. But he said it would be wrong to think that men benefited when women were discriminated against.

"Even though it’s a fact that we are still living in a sexist society that does not mean that every individual man benefits," he said.

"It was the women’s movement that shook things up in gender relations and that provoked men to react to these changes. Now it is our responsibility to find a new balance."

While the seven founders are all Swiss German, the group hopes to strike a chord with men across the country and become truly national.

"We intend to become a voice in the political process that must be taken seriously," explained Geu.

Membership is open to all men (and women) who support the organisation’s goals of sexual equality and "people-friendly social and economic structures".

swissinfo, Morven McLean

In brief

Männer.ch was launched in Bern on June 28.

The organisation describes itself as a national forum for men’s issues and male perspectives in politics.

It is also campaigning for full sexual equality in Switzerland.

Membership is open to all men, women and men’s groups sharing the aims of manner.ch.

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