Francisco Cervantes Islas
Fellow Since 1998
This profile was prepared when Francisco Cervantes Islas was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
The Mexican man has exercised masculinity and paternity in an authoritative way for centuries, creating tension in married couples and the family as a whole. Men have been able to reconcile this behavior with the role of provider inside the home, but this family structure has had many negative ramifications in the well-being of their partners and children. Daily life in Mexico is changing considerably, to the point where men do not always play the role of the provider, and thus have fewer reasons to exercise authority. At the same time, women have become involved in the social and economic life of the country, and children too are now more independent. Frustration at the loss of their traditional role often leads men to physical and emotional mistreatment of partners or children.In response to this problem, Francisco Cervantes is developing methodologies to work with men, to question and redefine masculinity so that the genders can coexist in harmony and end the negative consequences that traditional machismo has produced. He leads workshops and is developing materials and a staff which can propagate his work. Francisco's goal is to help men play a positive role in the lives of their partners and children. CORIAC (Men's Collective for Equal Relations), the organization which Francisco founded, is a pioneering group which leads programs for men who recognize their violent behavior. Francisco, working with this group and also striking out on his own to reach other groups of men, promotes fatherhood with workshops, models and manuals to help fathers play a positive role in the growth of their children.Every year Francisco has organized more institutions, both Mexican and international, to celebrate Fathers' Day in different forms such as conferences, forums, fairs, and days at work, advocating a law for parental leave for fathers. His organization also conducts photography and children's drawing courses that promote new images of fatherhood. Francisco's work is characterized by its wide field of action, which emphasizes the development of the emotional experiences of the men and an understanding of how they deal with masculinity and fatherhood.