BOYS and men should not be left out in sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official has said.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
UNFPA Zimbabwe Country Representative Dr Esther Muia said this at the launch of the State of the World Population (SWOP) 2019 Report on Wednesday.
“The title for this year’s State of the World Population Report is “Unfinished business: the pursuit of rights and choices for all” is showing that there is progress in the attainment of reproductive health and rights by women, young people, especially girls but that there is still unfinished business – I was very pleased to hear this acknowledgement by the Government through the Minister here present. here is still unfinished business – I was very pleased to hear this acknowledgement by the Government,” she said.
She said young boys are usually forgotten.
“But let’s not forget boys because we also have child boys. My fear usually is we focus so much on girls and we forget the boy child.
“We don’t want to run after the boy child later. But let’s do what can make a difference,” said Dr Muia.
Dr Muia’s fears are confirmed in the SWOP 2019 Report which states that men must also be engaged.
“Most reproductive health programmes have focused heavily on women and girls, for the justifiable reason that reproduction takes place in their bodies, and they are still significantly behind men and boys in exercising rights and choices.
“Yet men and boys must be better engaged, both to enlist them in advancing gender equality and to respond to their rights and specific needs,” reads part of the report.
The report adds that men and boys need to be better informed about rights of women and girls.
“Ensure that contraceptive information, goods and services are available to young women and men with disabilities. Men and boys should also receive information to help them understand the rights of young women and adolescent girls to use contraceptives,” says the report.
In SRHR programs issues to do with gender based violence (GBV) are looked at. Interestingly, the report also focusing on women as victims of GBV, in Zimbabwe men are reporting more than women over the past three years.
Despite Zimbabwe introducing voluntary medical male circumcision programs as a way of engaging men and boys on SRHR issues, the country is still lagging behind on its coverage rates with 4.3 per cent of men aged 15-49 circumcised as of 2017.
UNAIDS Zimbabwe HIV and Women report released last month states that the country failed to achieve its set target in 2018.
This is despite Zimbabwe being one of UNAIDS’ priority countries for the scale-up of VMMC being listed in the country’s National Combination Prevention Strategy.
“By 2018, Zimbabwe aims to reach 1.3 million men with VMMC (80% of 13-29 year olds) but as of 2016, it had only achieved 46.3% of this target group,” reads the report.