In 2017 Sonke’s International Programmes and Networking Unit (IPU) changed its name to Regional Programmes Unit (RPU) in order to more accurately reflect the strategic direction of the unit.
The RPU continues to works across 20 countries in Africa to share the lessons Sonke has learnt from its work in South Africa and our partners in the region. As the Secretariat of the MenEngage Africa (MEA) Alliance, Sonke coordinates training, technical assistance and peer exchange among dozens of organisations in West, Central, East and South Africa on a range of thematic issues and strategic approaches, including on community mobilisation, policy advocacy, organisational development and the use of community and mass media. As Chair, Sonke convenes the regional steering committee and is also responsible for mobilising resources and ensuring that the network remains active and relevant to emerging issues in the region. The RPU also implements a highly sought-after MenEngage Africa Training Initiative (MATI) – a rigorous residential two-week programme that builds participants’ capacity on the intersection of Women’s Health Empowerment and Masculinities. Over the past five years MATI has contributed to the development of a strong cadre of gender-justice activists in the region and beyond. Notably the work in the region has led to the successful development of a gender-justice movement.
Through Sonke’s support MEA members have been able to develop programmes centred on gender norms transformation. Similarly, they acquired skills in developing and implementing effective advocacy strategies, conducting M&E of projects, and documenting lessons and communication strategies. Training and capacity-building efforts led to thriving MEA member organisations and an increase in the scale of work of the regional programme. In addition, MEA members are now able to develop and implement scientific and evidence-based interventions on gender, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and human rights, among other things. This has contributed to an increase in the number of community members reached, and the expansion of gender-transformative work across sub-Saharan Africa.