There has been increased attention to the role of men and boys as partners, fathers, and change agents in advancing SRHR for women and children in East and Southern Africa, and addressing their specific needs through targeted information and services. HEARD conducted an analysis of country laws, policies and guidelines from four countries in the region with a view to assess the extent to which male specific needs were included in such national guidance documents.

The report shows that men and boys’ SRH needs are currently subsumed under broader health and SRH policies and that only one out of five reviewed countries had a stand-alone document on male involvement in maternal and child health care at the time of the review. Due to an absence of disaggregated data on burden of disease and health service utilisation by gender, policy documents (except for HIV and AIDS) do not further unpack the specific determinants, needs and gaps of men and boys in sexual and reproductive health. Particular blind spots in the policy landscape are violence against boys and support for boys as expectant young fathers in school settings. The report also analyses the attention to the range of male clinical services in SRH in country policies and strategies, as well as the guidance around gender-transformative approaches in a region where sexual and gender-based violence is a major problem. The report is accessible here.

The policy analysis report forms part of a larger formative assessment of the structural, social and behavioral drivers that facilitate or impede the uptake of SRHR services on adolescent boys and young men, aged 18-34 years, carried out between 2022-2023 in Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In this project, HEARD collaborates with UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO. The UN agencies have a joint regional programme that aims to improve SRHR for all in the region; the 2together 4 SRHR programme. The work emanating from this particular project is intended to inform the development of regional and country action plans to strengthen SRHR policy and programming for men and boys in East and Southern Africa. More information on this project can be found here.