By T’soloane Mohlomi
The United Nations Population fund Lesotho (UNFPA) yesterday kicked off a three day conference at Lesotho Avani aimed at empowering and addressing the challenges faced by men and boys in Lesotho.
The meeting was mainly focused on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights for men and boys (SRHR), and retains the theme, “Extent to which SRHR policies address the needs of men and boys.
In an ever-changing modern world where priority seems to be afforded mostly to women and young girls (also perpetuated by the modern feminist agenda) of and with it concerning human rights), it has now come to light that the issues facing men and boys have been overlooked, as a result they have often been left destitute in the darkness with no place to turn for help.
The UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, with a mission to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, where every childbirth is safe and where every young person’s potential is fulfilled, mostly with a focus on the rights of females, it is in these auspices and the aforementioned background that it was deemed important to address issues facing males as well.
Speaking at the meeting UNFPA Lesotho Programme Manager in the 2gether 4 SRHR, Mr. Richard Delate said the fight for men and boys inclusion went as far back as twenty years ago, but said till today issues facing men and boys were still not recognized by the society.
Making an example of Andropause which is a form of male menopause and using terms such as testicular cancer, Mr. Delate after only few people were familiar with both terms said it showed that not a lot of people were aware of illnesses which some men were likely to face.
“The advocacy for the inclusion of men and boys, contrary to popular belief goes as far back as twenty years ago. But either way a lot of people aren’t aware of the problems and illnesses that are likely to affect men. With the constant advocacy for equality related to females in the modern world, our males have been neglected and they experience a lot of problems too.
“The intention of this conference is to highlight and address some of these issues confronting our males mainly with regards to SRHR. SRHR’s are very important to address as some males in Lesotho especially herd boys in the highlands are in the dark with regards to issues relating to STI’s such as HIV and Aids and the use of contraceptives, which would most likely be condoms regarding the male gender,” he said.
In contrast to this initiative for men and boys the UNFP promotes gender equality and empowers women, girls and young people to take control of their bodies and their futures.
“We work with partners in more than 150 countries to provide access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services. Our goal is ending unmet needs of family planning, preventable maternal death, and gender-based violence and harmful practices including child marriage and female genital mutilation by 2030.”
With regards to how other countries in the region were addressing the SRHR needs of men and boys, a panel discussion was held with contributions and presentations from both Malawi and Uganda respectively.
In Malawi with the discussion moderated by the Sonke Gender Justice a National Male Engagement Strategy was established, focused mainly on HIV and nutrition. The Gender Equality Act facilitated also by the national strategy for adolescent girls and young women protects the rights of men and boys.
In Uganda policies and guidelines addressing SRHR’s have been developed and the country is looking to revise its National Health Policies to include SRHR’s.