MenEngage Africa Policy Advocacy Tools

Evidence has shown that if men are engaged in HIV and GBV prevention efforts, the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and involved parenting, there are great benefits for women, children and men themselves. Many men are already involved in these ways, but in order for widespread changes to take place, the engagement of men at the policy level must be addressed.

In light of this, Sonke Gender Justice, on behalf of MenEngage Africa, has produced a set of national policy reports across the Africa region examining policies, laws and plans in the areas of: 1) HIV and AIDS, 2) Gender-Based Violence (GBV), 3) Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), 4) parenting and 5) LGBTI issues. The reports assess the extent to which the policies contain language relating to the proactive and progressive engagement of men and boys across these critical areas for gender equality.

Additionally, a Policy Advocacy Toolkit has been created and published by Sonke to support organisations wanting to conduct policy advocacy work based on the findings of the national policy reports.

 Policy Advocacy Toolkit

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In order to support policy advocacy work aimed at addressing policy gaps highlighted by the MenEngage Africa policy reports, Sonke and MenEngage Africa produced a Policy Advocacy Toolkit.

This toolkit provides useful definitions; identifies key players in the production of policy; provides a step-by-step guide on how to successfully advocate, including a detailed case study example; discusses the use of the MenEngage Africa policy report series and policy advocacy work with regional economic communities; and provides a list of resources.

It targets organisations that work with men and boys for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. It is designed for use within an African context but may be amended to suit any country’s social, political and economic conditions. It is hoped that this toolkit will be particularly useful for MenEngage Africa partners who are committed to the task of creating gender equal societies on the continent.

  • Download the Policy Advocacy Toolkit here

MenEngage Africa Policy Reports

Each report highlights findings, recommendations and suggests policy language. The reports can be used as advocacy and programming tools, to strengthen a focus on engaging men for gender equality within national laws and policies. Their key audiences are national and regional civil society, policy makers and decision-makers.

The reports, and the accompanying longer versions, were developed by Sonke in collaboration with MenEngage partners, and with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women administered by UN Women, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Please click on the links below to access the policy reports, as well as the detailed overall reports (of which the published reports are a summary).


The analysis found that Kenya’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and parenting policies seek to positively engage with men in a number of ways. Unfortunately, while there are positive aspects to Kenya’s National AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) and Kenya’s gender-based violence (GBV) policies, these policies generally fall short in terms of engaging with men and boys. It is recommended that Kenya’s policies, laws and plans utilise specific language to articulate a commitment to the engagement of men, and identify strategies to address the issues they recognise and articulate. It is especially important for policies to acknowledge the role played by gender norms and plan work that aims to address and transform gender norms.

  • Download the Kenya Policy Report here
  • Download Detailed Policy Report for Kenya: Engaging Men in HIV, GBV, SRH, parenting and LGBTI here



The analysis found that Rwanda’s policies and plans compare favourably with many other countries in the region in relation to the engagement of men and boys. In particular Rwanda has some very strong policies related to gender-based violence (GBV). While there are aspects within the Rwandan Law on Prevention and Punishment of Gender-Based Violence that are problematic, commendably it does criminalise marital rape. There are a number of strengths in terms of engaging men within theNational Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS and the National Accelerated Plan for Women, Girls, Gender Equality & HIV. However, certain sexual and reproductive health and rights policies do not adequately engage with men, and Rwanda’s parenting policies do not enable men to prioritize their role as fathers.

Sierra Leone

The analysis found that although Sierra Leone’s National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS 2011–2015was published in 2011, it has not incorporated a sufficient focus on gender issues, or on the need to engage with men. With the passing of the Sexual Offences Act in August 2012, it is hoped that the political will to address gender-based violence (GBV) in Sierra Leone will continue to strengthen. Unfortunately, Sierra Leone’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) policies do not sufficiently address men’s SRH needs, and do not take advantage of the benefits that men can provide through supporting their partners’ SRH. Certain policies that relate to parenting in Sierra Leone may reinforce traditional gender norms, rather than challenging such norms in order to encourage men to be more involved in parenting.

South Africa

The analysis found that South Africa has developed a strong National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB 2012–2016 in terms of engaging men and boys, a strong 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence, and is a best practice example in terms of LGBTI policy and law in Africa. The 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence, however, needs to be updated and there are some weaknesses within policies related to sexual and reproductive health and parenting. Generally, it is recommended that policies, laws and plans utilise more specific language and identify achievable strategies to address the problems they recognise and articulate.  Where applicable, it is important that laws, policies and plans make provisions for the costing and budgeting of programmes, together with clear implementation plans.


The analysis found that Uganda’s policies and plans regarding HIV need to be updated, and should include a stronger emphasis on targeting men and influencing gender norms. Gender-based violence (GBV) policies and plans prioritise the need to engage with men, but that the accompanying laws are lacking. While the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) policies are strong in terms of engaging with men as clients of SRH, they are weak in terms of engaging with men as partners or as advocates for change. Uganda’s parenting policies are inconsistent in terms of positively engaging with men.


The analysis found that Zambia’s National AIDS Strategic Framework effectively identifies that men need to be engaged around issues related to HIV, but could go further in terms of articulating how such a goal should be achieved. Zambia’s National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence adequately highlights the need to engage with men, but is less adequately supported by Zambian legislation. While Zambian sexual and reproductive health (SRH) policies attempt to emphasise men’s SRH needs, they do not adequately engage with men as partners able to support women’s SRH, and do not address the need to transform gender norms related to health seeking behaviour. The Zambian Draft Constitution shows the potential to precipitate a more gender-equal approach to parenting, which as yet is not evident in Zambian policy and law.

Upcoming Policy Reports

Upcoming policy reports

Policy reports for the following countries are currently being drafted and will soon be available: Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania.

Scorecard on GBV Laws and Policy


Engaging men and boys in the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence (GBV) on the African continent

In preparation for the 57th Commission on the Status of Women, bearing in mind that the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls is the priority theme, Sonke Gender Justice, with support from UNFPA, SIDA and UN Women, developed a scorecard of GBV Laws and Policies in Africa.

This scorecard provides an assessment of whether national policies and laws in the African region attempt to engage men and boys in the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence (GBV). The report analyses policies and laws from eleven African countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It identifies various strengths and gaps within the region’s GBV policies and laws with regards to their inclusion of language relating to the proactive and progressive engagement of men and boys. Furthermore, it offers recommendations for how such policies can increase the commitment and capacity of men and boys to play a proactive role in preventing and eliminating GBV.

The scorecard will be presented at the 57th CSW in New York and will also be disseminated at events within the region. It can be used as a policy advocacy tool to strengthen the engagement of men within policy for the prevention of gender-based violence.

The analysis found that many national policies aimed at addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in Africa need to be strengthened in terms of engaging with men and boys. While a few pieces of legislation articulate the importance of engaging men and boys for the elimination and prevention of GBV, with some notably mentioning the need to shift negative masculine norms and behaviours, there are hardly any which emphasise the need for Information, Education and Communication (IEC) or Behaviour and Communication Change (BCC) strategies in order to effectively operationalise this aim. In many of the policies, men are viewed primarily as perpetrators of GBV and are not engaged as potential advocates for change.

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