Men correct narrative, cooking not for women alone

Some men during the men cooking challenge in Juba, denounce the cultural narrative that forbid men from entering the kitchen, washing dishes and cook.

The men who participated in the challenge whom most of them are single, said their effort to change the narrative is to ensure that their women don’t become the victim of belief and encourage other men to take cooking skill as a life skill.

“Trust me, my wife will not suffer. This perception of people saying men should not enter the kitchen thinking kitchen is specifically made for women, is absolutely wrong perception. I will make sure i help my wife even if she is not sick because i was hearing people saying ‘unless if she is sick’,” said Augustino Woodman.

Woodman said cooking should be seen like any other decent skill that anybody would want to learn and discourages those who think can only cook when the wife is not well.

“That’s not correct. If she is in the kitchen, you have to wash the dishes. If she is not in the kitchen, you have to enter the kitchen because she is doing other works in the house. Men and women should understand that it’s a collective responsibility,” He added.

Aya Benjamin Libo Warille, national minister of gender, child and social welfare said cooking should not be used to opperessed women but should rather be used to foster gender equality in the family and in the society.

“Cooking is the assigned role that we the society have left for girls or women but it’s a skill that men can also participate in. So, it’s important for us to have gender equality. Some of these assigned roles which are used against girls and women can be used to achieve equality rather than using it to suppressed women,” Said Ayaa.

“Everybody eats, so anybody can cook. There’s nothing wrong with anybody cooking. Think of a family where there’s no girl to cook. What will happen?,” she paused.

Santino Abor, another challenger who prepared wal-wal (small balls of dough) -a South Sudanes favorite dish. Abor said he had the skills but his sisters are not allowing him to cook in the house due to the stereotype around cooking and men entering the kitchen.

“I have my sisters who does it at home but because of the stereotype, they think it’s their responsibility to do it and they don’t give me an opportunity to do it,” Abor stated .

Planning for after the challenge, he said will convince his sisters to allow him cook in the family and educate them he’s not taking their role but sharing with them just like any other role

“I will just make sure that they don’t take it like i being in the kitchen is not something negative. It’s not like taking away the responsibility from them but we are like sharing the responsibility of cooking,” He said.

Biel Chal is also another young man who said he has always admired to cook but the cultural norms kept him away from doing what he loves.

“I some times cook for myself because I’m not yet married  though not regularly. I could cook for the family but i couldn’t beause my community doesn’t allow men to cook because they feel it’s ladies’ job but i feel good cooking,”

Biel said the bias is not breaking any soon if the society continue to thinks that cooking is women role and a shame for a man to take part in.

“If women are the only ones cooking everyday, it gives an impression that it’s only women that are supposed to cook but if we have men cook and women cook, then it become normal and everybody can be able to cook any time,” Biel said.

Responding to individuals who said can only cooks when their wives are not well ,  Ademola Olajide, country director of the United Nations population Fund rebuke men saying that this shouldn’t be the reason for cooking but rather to eat.

“Some of the men gave us reasons why they are doing this and they said ‘in case my wife travel or fall sick. I beg to disagree, you are doing this because you want to eat. It does not need your wife to fall sick before you enter the kitchen, it does not need your wife to travel before you cook for your children and your wife,”

More than 30 men participated in the men cooking challenge event organized by Men for Women organization and UNFPA to change the society narrative that cooking is an assigned role for women only.