MenEngage Africa (MEA) annual meeting & launch Botswana network

MEA PhotoMenEngage Africa

By Sonke Gender Justice

The MenEngage Africa members met in Gaborone, Botswana for their annual meeting from 15-17th September 2014. The three day meeting started with a steering committee meeting on the 15th followed by a cocktail in the evening that marked both the launch of the three day meeting and the launch of MenEngage Botswana which is hosted by the office of Men and Boys for Gender Equality (MBGE). Some senior government officials, representatives from UN agencies and Universities and civil society, attended the launch.

A full day meeting of organizations/networks that constitute MenEngage Africa was held at the University of Botswana Student Centre and covered different agenda items including updates from members, an overview of the MenEngage Africa project funded by Sweden and Norad, the SRHR global campaign and the MenEngage Africa advocacy campaign. Further, countries who are implementing part of the MenEngage Africa project met to discuss project specific concerns related to sub-grant, compliance and reporting.

MenEngage members were welcomed to Botswana by Rev Hambira (Former army commander) who gave a background on Men and Boys for Gender Equality as an organisation. He stated that MBGE was founded in October 2013 with a vision to nurture a community where women, girls, men and boys are given an equal opportunity and not judged on their sexual orientation but rather on how much they are able to contribute to development as individuals. He said that the organization seeks to be recognized as a leader in the implementation of gender transformative interventions where both men and boys take action in ending violence against women and children.

The new law states that the name of the biological father of the child must appear on the birth certificate of the child. He called on Men and boys to become more active in eliminating gender based violence. At the event, the MenEngage Africa was represented by the African Coordinator, Remmy Shawa (Sonke Gender Justice) who gave a brief history of the network in Africa. He indicated that MenEngage is an alliance of organizations working to promote the equality of men and women and that they work to prevent gender based violence while also engaging men and boys in work around HIV and AIDS including SRHR. He further clarified that MenEngage is not a men’s right organization or men’s rights network but a network that works to promote the rights of women and girls by working with men and boys for gender equality. He stated that MenEngage is made up of different organizations and in Africa they have 17 member organizations based in 17 countries in Sub Sahara Africa. In closing he mentioned that MenEngage recognized the role gender plays in development.

To read the full report, including updates from members, download the pdf.