SRHR amongst Men and Boys
Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is an essential component of the universal right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and must be met for both men and women. Global, continental and regional commitments, such as the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Maputo Plan of Action, and the SADC Regional Strategy on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), all emphasize the importance of engaging men and boys to achieve gender equality and foster women empowerment, including addressing the specific health and social development needs of men and boys themselves. Despite these commitments, the current body of work from the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region indicates that the initiatives to engage men and boys as clients, supportive partners and advocates in SRH remain small in scale. National policies and strategies pay insufficient attention to the male engagement on SRHR, the delivery of SRHR services to meet the needs of men and boys, and the promotion of gender-equitable attitudes and behaviours.
Towards the end of 2021, HEARD launched a new research project, commissioned by UNFPA ESARO consisting of a literature review, policy analysis and primary research in five ESA countries on the structural, social and behavioural drivers that facilitate or impede the uptake of SRH services and the impact of COVID-19 on adolescent boys and young men. The findings of the policy analysis were presented and discussed at a regional symposium hosted by the 2gether4 SRHR programme in October 2022 in Zimbabwe in the presence of Ministry officials, representatives of UN agencies, civil society organisations, academia and SRH practitioners and at various other forums. Early June 2023, HEARD will present and validate the findings of its primary research to country officials and help inform a multi-agency strategy on how to engage men and boys on SRHR issues in the region, and enable more cooperation between agencies and civil society partners in efforts to close the gap on policy and programming implementation.