Thèmes et resources

Male involvement project: Reaching out to men - the forgotten 50%

For many years, Kenyan men have effectively been excluded either deliberately or by default from many Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) programmes. The male involvement project – Reaching out to men: the forgotten 50% - aimed to redress this. The project addressed an important objective in the Vision 2000 strategic plan of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) by encouraging male involvement in SRH.

In a setting where patriarchal traditions are strong, negative male attitudes can restrict women’s access to services and hamper efforts to promote HIV prevention. The main challenge has been to change men’s attitudes and behaviour so that they will use condoms both for family planning and STI/HIV/AIDS protection, support their partner’s use of family planning, and encourage better communication between husband and wife on SRH issues. A more understanding attitude among men may liberate women to use contraception without fear or shame.

Learning from the project experience

The project developed bold, creative and flexible management, willing and able to experiment with new motivational and clinical activities. It built on 40 years of successful experience, helping the Family Planning Association of Kenya (FPAK) make the transition from traditional family planning services to sexual and reproductive health, and increasing its visibility and image.

The project pioneered innovative strategies to change men’s attitudes and behaviour. It has demonstrated a valid and successful model for male involvement and piloted the feasibility of male-only clinics. What lessons have been learnt?

• On-going efforts are needed to publicise new services and create demand. • Changing attitudes and behaviour need a longer-term perspective and creative approaches. • A single IEC activity cannot achieve project goals in isolation. A combination of approaches, methods and media – together with careful targeting of messages – maximises impact and appeal. Humorous and entertaining messages are particularly memorable. Targeting activities which interest men, such as football, are effective ways to capture their attention. • Combining mass media with group and individual activities creates ownership and pride among community members. • Male involvement cannot be separated from gender issues. • Separate male clinics are not necessary. What is important is staff who are sensitive to men’s needs and respect their privacy, a male-friendly environment, a complete range of integrated services and flexible hours. The willingness of men to seek services from conventional clinics is a major project achievement. • Involving influential people from the project areas, such as mayors and other politicians, increases the appeal of the project to its audience.

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