Policy Gaps in Engaging Men in HIV and SRH policies in Africa
HIV and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services across Africa have predominately been targeted towards women and girls. While this is understandable, studies have found that in Africa men are less likely than women to access HIV and SRH services. This has an adverse effect on men’s health and is detrimental for women as well. While small-scale interventions exist to engage men on these issues, a shared policy agenda is central to scaling-up this work and achieving changes in gender norms and equality. Laws and policies significantly define and sustain gender norms by outlining what is considered to be officially acceptable or important. Owing to their national impact, laws and policies have the potential to lead to large-scale changes in men’s behaviours and attitudes relating to gender and health, and to challenge social norms and institutional cultures that continue to perpetuate inequalities and violence. Thus, Sonke Gender Justice conducted a regional analysis of how HIV and SRH-related policies and laws in Africa engage with men, in terms of their needs, and their potential role as partners and role models. This process sought to develop an evidence base for policy advocacy work aiming to increase the engagement of men in HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) promotion within public policy. It is important to remember that policies and laws alone cannot effect long-term and sustained change. While they are an integral first step, they must be followed up by effective implementation, genuine commitment from key stakeholders and broader national engagement.