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Report: Engaging Boys and Men in Sexual and Reproductive Health

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

International News

Engaging boys and men in sexual and reproductive health and rights is essential to improving their and their partners’ sexual and reproductive health.

In June last year, the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development (NZPPD) hosted an Open Hearing on engaging boys and men in sexual and reproductive health and rights in Pacific Island countries and territories.

 NZPPD members along with parliamentarians from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu heard submissions from experts in sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Pacific.

Released today, the report from the Open Hearing makes 14 recommendations it hopes Pacific Island countries and territories will embrace as they move towards achieving the targets set down in the Sustainable Development Goals.

NZPPD chair MP Barbara Kuriger says while sexual and reproductive health and rights have traditionally been seen as women’s issues in the Pacific, there’s increasing recognition that engaging boys and men in the issues is central to improving the health and rights of all people.

Pacific Island countries and territories face considerable sexual and reproductive health and rights challenges – high rates of sexually transmissible infections, high rates of unintended and youth pregnancy and low contraceptive prevalence.

“Three themes became very apparent across the Open Hearing. The first was the importance of engaging men and young men. We heard from a range of submitters who talked about the good things that happen in communities, and within families, when men and boys do become involved,” Ms Kuriger said.

“The second theme was about the cultural, structural, and organisational barriers that stop men from becoming involved. Finally, we heard about ideas and approaches that have been implemented elsewhere that have been shown to make progress possible. The report’s recommendations are structured around these three themes.”

Ms Kuriger says NZPPD stresses that any call for change must be driven by Pacific people but high level public policy changes can help create an environment in which it is easier and more likely for change to happen.

The report has been presented to the Government of Kiribati. Following the official launch in Wellington on Wednesday 17 February, the report will be distributed among Pacific Parliaments.

You can read the report here

Recommendations:

Overarching Recommendation

1. Form a Pacific Regional Parliamentary Group on Population and Development.

Additional Recommendations

2. Review current key documents and ensure that national polices are conducive to an increased uptake of vasectomies. 

3. Develop, where necessary, a national policy framework that supports the sustainability of a comprehensive sexuality education/family life education curriculum throughout the formal education system.

Improved health services

4. Develop antenatal programmes for expectant fathers that are father-friendly and that empower men with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about sexual and reproductive health, healthy relationships and male involvement in family life. 

5. Fund and support general health care providers to develop innovative methods of delivering sexual and reproductive health and rights information to boys and men. 

6. Strengthen and expand general health care services that target the needs of boys and men of marginalised groups. 

7. Incorporate HIV/AIDS services (testing, treatment and counselling) into general sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes to reverse the stigma associated with separate HIV/AIDS services.

Capacity development

8. Recruit and training health workers in best practice sexual and reproductive health and rights service delivery. 

9. Support teachers with further training that addresses current barriers to openly discuss sexual and reproductive health and rights so they are able to confidently deliver comprehensive sexuality education/family life education in school settings.

Supportive environment

10. Identify different responsibility-areas, gaps and strengths for Governments and Civil Society Organisations, ensuring transparent responses. 

11. Strengthen the relationship between national parliamentary groups on population and development (or other parliamentary groups interested in sexual and reproductive health and rights issues) and sexual and reproductive health and rights Civil Society Organisations. 

12. Create positive resources about the important role male family members play in communities sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Community action

13. Support an increase in community-based sexual and reproductive health and rights education programmes that are delivered by trained facilitators. 

14. Engage and training male sexual and reproductive health and rights champions.

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