MenEngage Africa (MEA) transforms gender inequality and its negative effects on sexual and reproductive health outcomes by involving men and boys as agents of change. MEA is part of the Global MenEngage Alliance and consists of a network of women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) activists; and people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) activists and networks; and civil society organisations that promote social justice and human rights.
The vision of the MEA SRHR Strategic Plan is for women, girls, men, boys, and people with diverse SOGIESC to realise their rights to optimal sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing in Africa. The Plan will inform country networks on how to advocate for improved sexual and reproductive health and rights outcomes, and for societies free of gender inequality through four strategies summarized as Link, Learn, Improve and Influence.
Under the MEA banner, each country network will be able to customise the MEA SRHR Strategic Plan to their local context without compromising on the sexual and reproductive principles, rights, quality, and minimum standards implied by the Plan. By standardizing country approaches, harmonious progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and other regional and global SRHR agendas is possible.
This MEA SRHR Strategic Plan, like all MEA programmes and policies, is underpinned by evidence as well as global and regional policy commitments and objectives. The SRHR of girls and women in Africa, of diff erent ages, religions, socio-economic status, sexual orientations, cultural associations, and gender expressions guided the content of the strategy. During the development process, partners and bodies in the SRHR response were widely consulted for input. MEA is committed to advocating for gender-transformation that will afford bodily autonomy and bodily integrity to all people free from coercion and discrimination.
MEA sexual and reproductive health and rights priorities Although SRHR has been one of the integrated thematic areas in MEA, it has not been funded separately until now. A 2020 evaluation report of MEA identified several sexual and reproductive-specific barriers in Africa36. Firstly, many faith-based organisations continue to promote sexual abstinence outside of heterosexual marriage and are often reluctant to discuss sexuality and reproduction in an open and accepting manner. Secondly, criminalisation and widespread stigmatisation of people with diverse SOGIESC, people who inject drugs, and sex workers are commonplace in Africa and could result in imprisonment in these countries. Faith-based and organisations representing people with diverse SOGIESC were poorly represented in the MEA network.
In line with the Global MenEngage Alliance SRHR Working Group, MEA prioritised creation and use of a capable, inclusive and accountable network to engage men and boys to:
- Advocate for improved access to rights-based and positive-oriented sexual and reproductive health services and education
- Support and hold governments and duty bearers accountable for developing and implementing gender-equal sexual and reproductive health policies and programmes
- Involve, learn from and build the capacity of diverse representative groups as clients, equal partners and positive agents of change in their communities
MenEngage Africa Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Strategic Plan 2023–2027
This MEA SRHR Strategic Plan 2022–2025 has been developed through a collaborative process with MEA leadership and member country representatives and partners. At an MEA team meeting, represented by 22 country networks, an analysis was conducted to inform MEA’s sexual and reproductive health goals and objectives. A first draft of the plan was reviewed by Sonke Regional and International Network’s unit and the MEA SRHR Technical Working Group. These inputs informed a second draft of the Plan, which was validated in an online workshop attended by representatives from the country networks. Subsequently, the final draft was reviewed by the MenEngage Africa Steering Committee.
The MEA SRHR Plan is aligned to the Global MenEngage Alliance Strategic Plan 2021–2024 and is informed by findings from an extensive review of regional and global literature and MenEngage Global Alliance documents, strategies and training resources.
Purpose, vision and mission of the Plan
This strategy will guide MEA country networks and partner organisations and other likeminded civil society organisations, donors, individuals and government officials on using gender-transformative approaches to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and for those advocating for gender equal SRHR in Africa.
The vision of the MEA SRHR Strategic Plan is for women, girls, men, boys, and people with diverse SOGIESC to realise their rights to optimal sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing in Africa.
We will actively engage men and boys to change masculinities and harmful practices through a gender transformative lens. MEA is committed to advocating for equitable, democratic, gender-just sexual and reproductive health and working with women’s rights and SRHR activists, people with diverse SOGIESC activists and networks, and civil society organizations that promote social justice and human rights.
Strategies to strengthen access to and use of SRH
MEA aims to achieve its vision through four interdependent strategies for change
- LINK: Alliance and partnership building to strengthen MEA network and leadership focus on SRHR. To create an inclusive, democratic and sustainable social-change network, we will strengthen our own leadership capabilities, improve membership engagement, strengthen interaction and communication among members. MEA will build capacity on SRHR issues in country networks and off er technical assistance to execute local operational plans.
- LEARN: Knowledge management. We will continue to create and use evidence-based resources to improve knowledge and skills on SRHR. This will start with better data collection and reporting on sexual and reproductive health, periodic evaluation of progress, operational research, dissemination and exchange of best practices, country commitment to improving access to sexual and reproductive health services and to fund local SRHR Plans from domestic funding. At the same time, we will find effective ways to counter the backlash against feminist agendas and support country networks to advocate for the advancement of SRHR using central training resources
- IMPROVE: Capacity strengthening. To build the movement we will adapt to and contribute meaningfully to and act in harmony with gender and social justice movements. We will consider and respect intersectionality, diversity and heterogeneity in all work on SRHR—including 1) collaboration and with and among our diverse members; 2) partnerships and solidarity with feminist, people with diverse SOGIESC, youth, racial, indigenous, economic and climate justice organisations, networks, and movements; 3) adopt diverse SOGIESC inclusive practices together with relevant organisations.
- INFLUENCE: Advocacy and campaigning. We will advocate with policy influencers at all levels to increase our political voice to create an enabling policy environment for women, girls and people with diverse SOGIESC. Through strong country networks, capable of improving regional and national accountability, we will advocate for protective sexual and reproductive laws and policiesIt gives us great pride to have this strategic plan, which should guide our work for the next couple of years and will provide a platform for our over 530 plus organisations to contribute meaningfully to the realisation of sexual and reproductive health and rights across the region.
We are already grateful to the many organisations that have contributed to this and will be working tirelessly in the next couple of years to implement this. Together, we will make this happen and count on your contributions. The four strategies Link, Learn, Improve and Influence are generic and can be applied to any of the SRHR priorities, such as information, appropriate care, treatment and support, pregnancy, HIV, gender-based violence, and protective policies. Link, Learn, Improve and Influence represent leverage points in the system for SRHR advocacy, capacity building and technical assistance.
The theory of change assumes that if the four strategies are implemented in synergy with each other, this will result in the desired change at outcome and impact levels. A stronger MEA, with diverse representation, that uses evidence to advocate for gender equal SRHR. At least two of the strategies must be adopted to effect change and create synergy. Leverage points are usually not effective if implemented in isolation to other processes of change at country and regional levels. Different strategies will be more relevant in different country contexts and for different priorities and issues
Virtual Launch of the MEA SRHR Strategic Plan
|12:00 – 12:20||Opening Remarks||Bafana Khumalo MEA Chairperson MEA Global SRHR Lead AmplifyChange, SIDA, UNAIDS, UNFPA(TBC)|
|12:20 – 12:35||Presentation of the MEA SRHR Strategic Plan||Jude T Njikem and Diana Macauley|
|12:35 – 12:45||Perspective from MEA Members Short collation of videos from MEA Members|
|12:45 – 12:55||Presentation of the MEA SRHR Strategic Plan – Implementation and monitoring||Yanga Fandana|
|12:55 – 13:10||Open Discussions Questions and Answers||Martha Kavuma – How PtY project aligns to this strategy Jean Marie – Generation G and alignment to the strategy Nonhanla – CEM’s work What will MEA learn from Sonke’s work in South Africa Jayne Arnott – What will MEA learn from Sonke’s work in South Africa Moderator: Zaituni|
|13:10 – 13:15||Closing Remarks||ED SAfAIDS|