From today, 9-10 April 2018, MenEngage Africa in collaboration with Kenya MenEngage Alliance – KEMEA and other partners is hosting a Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Consultation Meeting, Nairobi Kenya.
This is against the background that access to sexual reproductive health services in Africa continues to be a challenge due to a number of factors including unfavourable socio-cultural practices that may create barriers to adolescents, girls and women, and marginalised persons accessing sexual and reproductive health services and rights, including youth friendly services.
These challenges are exacerbated by the lack of funds by developing countries that prioritise other social services over sexual reproductive health and rights. This has even gotten worse with the US implementation of the Gag Rule, further limiting available funds for SRHR services for developing countries.
Social stigmatisation of sexual and gender minorities and puniive legal systems continue to criminalise same-sex relationships which in turn cause discriminatory attitudes among health service providers and make them reluctant to provide services to LGBTI persons, or the LGBTI community may fear to access services for fear of victimisation, persecution and prosecution.
Health workers lack awareness and competence regarding the health needs of LGBTI persons and tend to be very hetero-normative when providing guidance, a key example being the condom demonstrations when providing safe sex education. The condom demonstration is always conducted from the assumption that the client is heterosexual.
The restricted access of youth and LGBTI people to vital sexual and reproductive health services and information strongly affects their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection.
These issues have necessitated a consultation to zoom into some of the key SRHR challenges faced in Africa including the effects of the Gag Rule on SRHR services in Africa, HIV through the lenses of the MEA Men & HIV campaign and most
importantly an honest discussion on the challenges of accessing SRHR services for the LGBTI population.
PURPOSE OF THE MEETING
The purpose of the meeting is to convene a consultation with key Regional SRHR stakeholders including civil society, traditional and religious leaders, and MEA partners on how to improve SRHR access in Africa for youth and LGBTI persons to discuss the effects of the Gag Rule on SRHR services including access to abortion and HIV services.
- To devise a way forward on how to improve access to SRHR services with the recent US restrictions under the gag rule.
- To get inputs and contributions to a toolkit on providing non-discriminatory SRH services for LGBTI populations.
The meeting will be held over two days and will comprise of plenary sessions and various group discussions addressing keys issues such Men & HIV, SRHR access for youth and LGBTI persons. We hope to use plenary session, group discussions,
practical exercises and presentations.
Participants will be given an opportunity to contribute to the toolkit on providing non-discriminatory SRH services for LGBTI
Participants will include representatives from Key regional organisations that offer HIV prevention services, youth friendly SRHR and organisations serving LGBTI communties.
We intend to invite religious and traditional leaders, Sexual reproductive health service providers, regional and Civil Society Partners, including MenEngage Africa partners, as well as academic institutions and those with expertise in this work.