MenEngage Africa Training Initiative (MATI): Lessons from 2012 and planning for next course from 16 to 26 September 2013

In August 2012, Sonke Gender Justice Network, the MenEngage Africa Network and the Women’s Health Research Unit at the University of Cape Town hosted the first ever MenEngage Training Initiative course entitled ‘Masculinities, Leadership and Gender Justice in Sub-Saharan Africa’. This exciting new initiative was established to expand the skills and knowledge of female and male advocates, civil society practitioners, policy makers and other stakeholders in sub-Saharan Africa on ways to garner the greater involvement of men and boys in gender equality, but also with the aim of building a strong network of future leaders and gender justice advocates.

In Issue 4
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Over a period of ten days, men and women from thirteen African countries gained in-depth learning in the areas of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, fatherhood, child and LGBTI rights, and various other thematic areas. The course also included skills-building sessions which were designed to strengthen organisational capacity by providing modules on issues such as leadership, organisational development, research methods and resource mobilisation. As one participant remarked, “The course provides a brilliant learning opportunity.”

Melba Katindi, MATI participant from KELIN, a human rights organisation working to protect and promote HIV related human rights in Eastern Africa, provides some more detail on her experience of the first MATI course:

“I was among twenty-three participants who attended the first MATI course. MATI has been extremely useful in strengthening the existing work on the greater involvement of men and boys in the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, fatherhood, child sexual exploitation and abuse, LGBTI rights and other issues pertaining to gender equality. The knowledge and skills that I gained during this course will allow me to challenge cultural structures as well as facilitate access to justice for widows and orphans in Kenya through our work in KELIN. The comprehensive knowledge and skills I gained from the MATI course will enable KELIN to further encourage healthier gender roles for women and men as we strive to build a more gender equitable society.

Then, in March 2013, Sonke held a review meeting attended by key stakeholders regarding MATI in order to reflect on the lessons learnt from the first MATI course. Involvement in this process was a great learning opportunity for me. The in-depth analysis of participants’ reviews and feedback brought out key learning areas that would inform the planning of future MATI courses. There were also practical discussions around strategies for scaling up and establishing the sustainability of the course.

My involvement in the MATI review process was also beneficial as we undertake similar planning process for courses offered by KELIN. We recently conducted a short course seeking to develop a critical understanding among legal practitioners on HIV law and related human rights in order to improve legal services for HIV-related violations, and participating in MATI and the review meeting was critical in informing these processes.”

In light of the positive feedback from participants and the clear need for more such courses to take place on the continent, Sonke and it’s co-collaborators are pleased to announce that a second course is scheduled to take place this year, running from the 16th to the 26th of September 2013 at the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. The second course promises to be even more informative, groundbreaking and fun! You can find out more and make an application at http://www.menengage.org/mati2013application

by Tanya Charles from www.genderjustice.org.za and Melba Katindi from www.kelinkenya.org