The Kalan Museum of Healthy Masculinities: Art to heal and transform

By Rodrigo Barraza García | March 24, 2023 | The Americas | Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment

This article was originally published by Human Rights Funders Network. It is also available in Spanish.

GFC’s Rodrigo Barraza celebrates the Kalan Museum of Healthy Masculinities, an itinerant artistic project that helps construct new narratives around masculinity and promotes gender equity.

Since 2014, Global Fund for Children and allies such as the Summit Foundation and the Kendeda Fund have invested in community-based organizations interested in promoting healthy masculinities for gender justice in Latin America. So far, GFC has offered flexible funding, capacity development, and networking opportunities to more than 20 organizations in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, benefiting more than 30,000 children and youth.

Thanks to the comprehensive support of GFC, our partners have been able to build safe spaces for boys and young men to share emotions, access comprehensive sexuality education, and launch advocacy proposals to build societies free of violence.

One of the tools most used by our partners to promote other ways of being men and boys is art. Through art, participants can critically reflect on their realities, express emotions, and build deep connections. Painting, music, and cinema are just some of the artistic expressions that allow youth to imagine other worlds, influence their communities, and create new languages of resistance.

Displays of art at the Kalan museum of healthy masculinities.

Presentation of GFC’s Kalan Museum of Healthy Masculinities as part of the Discovery Journeys activity at the Human Rights Funders Network Global Conference in Mexico in November 2022. © GFC

Recognizing the power of art as a driver of social change, GFC and its partners decided to create the Kalan Museum (Kalan means “care” in the Mayan language) of healthy masculinities. The museum is an itinerant artistic project that seeks to raise awareness among children and young people and their communities about the importance of promoting masculinities based on care and social justice.

The museum is a living, moving space made up of artistic creations by children and young people from the region. It crosses borders to nourish itself from the exchange with diverse children and youth. Its main objectives are: 1) to contribute to the construction of new narratives around masculinity that promote gender equity; 2) to strengthen youth leadership; and 3) to contribute to the creation of a collective memory of a masculinity that is caring and responsible.

The museum was exhibited for the first time in Oaxaca, Mexico, in November 2022 as part of the Human Rights Funders Network Global Conference, which brings together a network of donors that support efforts to promote and defend human rights around the world. In addition to showing the artistic pieces created by the young people we support, we set up playful and interactive spaces for the conference participants to contribute to the dialogue and reflect on the following question: How can we all contribute to the construction of masculinities based on love and co-responsibility?

Some of the responses were:

As a result, new connections that may spark future collaborations were established with organizations in Colombia and Mexico.

Hands of young men holding a series of interconnected ribbons.

Young men participate in an activity during a masculinities and youth meeting in Chiapas, Mexico, in 2020. © GFC

In 2023, GFC and its partners will exhibit the museum in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. In each place, more boys and young men will be invited to create art and reflect on their masculinity.

Art to heal. Art to transform. Art to be better.


Header photo: Community-based partners taking part in the first Promoting Healthy Masculinities for Gender Justice (HEEL) initiative convening in Xela, Guatemala. © GFC

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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