Message from the National Chairperson of the SANAC Men’s Sector

Over the last year and a half, the Men’s Sector has grown in leaps and bounds. We have really knuckled down to contribute to the achievement of the National priorities relating to HIV Counselling and Testing, the introduction of Male Circumcision, the combating of Gender-Based Violence and the tackling of maternal and infant mortality.

Working with various provincial departments of health, premiers’ offices, provincial and district based organisations that work with men and the Brothers For Life campaign, with support from USAID, UNICEF and the Danish government, we have trained more than 500 men and women so as to address the above priorities.

We have sought to create a solid working relationship with Government departments to ensure that we play a role in the promotion and provision of HIV Testing, with a particular focus on men. We have taken part in the development of tools to engage men on the benefits of Male Circumcision, and over the months have embarked on over 30 community dialogues on Gender violence reaching more than 4000 people. The Brothers For Life campaign, which was launched in 2009 has managed to reach over 15 million South Africans with messages that promote HIV Testing, responsible alcohol use, condom usage and addressing violence in households and communities. The One Man Can campaign is reaching millions through the soapie Generations on a daily basis. Organisations such as JHHESA, Ruliv, Oliveleaf, Men for Change, POMESA, Council of Churches, IYDSA, SAMAG, Sonke Gender Justice, Provincial Chairpersons and District Chairpersons of the Men’s Sector continue to work tirelessly on the ground. We have also worked with community and national radio stations in our quest to get the message through to our constituencies. We have seen a surge in the number of organisations that seek to work positively with men and regard that as a positive step. We are happy to see the Men’s sector growing.

We however continue to be plagued by a number of challenges in this country. Minister Motsoaledi has made it clear to everyone that we need to reverse the infant and maternal mortality tide and as men we are committing ourselves to working with SANAC and the department in succeeding in that quest. The recently released ante-natal survey results also show that we still have a very long way to go.

As men, we are also embarrassed when we see young girls and women continue to be victims of rape and abuse, and harmful practices such as ritual sexual violence on women by newly graduated men from initiation schools well known as ukukhupha amafutha. We are however turning this embarrassment into action, and as men we pledge to be visible in fighting these scourges. We will be working closely with the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities in dealing with these particular issues.

As the Men’s sector we have also resolved that with your help, the SANAC Men’s Sector National Newsletter and the Men’s Sector National Secretariat, we will tackle the providers of communication in this country, the cell phone companies, to cease charging people when they call the AIDS Helpline and the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline. These lines are intended to be free. Over 90% of people in this country use cell phones and charging them for help is unwarranted.

As part of the 16 Days of activism we would like to emphasise that we are working beyond the 16 days and are adopting the 365 National Action Plan as driven by the National Prosecuting Authority. Television and Radio adverts are already being aired and feature men who are willing to share their personal stories and show that it is possible to change. We will continue with our mobilization activities in all provinces.

In conclusion, we should never lose sight of why we are working against violence on women and HIV/AIDS: we have been tasked by the nation to lead it out of the epidemic. As the men’s sector we still commit ourselves to doing exactly that, we will also work closely with SANAC and the secretariat to find ways of making our jobs more manageable and monitored. After climbing a great hill, one may find that there are many more hills to climb. As men let us continue to fight for justice for all, by climbing one hill after another.