Regional Economic Communities and GBV Prevention: Engaging Men and Boys

In November 2012 Sonke, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), hosted a unique meeting in Botswana focusing on the extent to which regional HIV and GBV prevention policies and protocols engage with men and boys. The meeting strengthened relationships between MenEngage Africa and national and regional governing structures, leading to the development of joint policy and advocacy activities with men and boys for gender equality and GBV prevention in Eastern and Southern Africa.

In Issue 4
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A high number of key organisations participated, such as:

  • Regional Economic Communities, including: the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC);
  • United Nations Agencies, including: the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNAIDS Botswana and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
  • Non-governmental organisations, including: Stepping Stones, Pan African Women’s Organization Namibia, Men’s Association for Gender Equality Sierra Leone, Gender Links and the MenEngage Network Kenya;
  • The University of Botswana, and;
  • Government departments, including: the Department of Social Development and the Department of Women and Children and People with Disabilities from the Republic of South African and the Women’s Affairs Department in Botswana).

There were several positive results of the meeting, for example the parties agreed to the need for Regional Economic Communities (such as the African Union) to focus on engaging men for gender equality. The meeting also facilitated coordination between the Regional Economic Communities and civil society actors – highlighting the need for a platform for communication and dialogue.

The meeting examined the findings of Sonke’s analysis of whether HIV and GBV related policies of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the East African Commission engage with men and boys. An overall report was shared, including recommendations to policymakers and civil society organisations of adjustments to laws and policies relevant for HIV and GBV prevention.

For instance, in the African Union “GBV polices need to identify and address the underlying causes and behaviour patterns that perpetuate GBV – and psycho-social services must be developed to break such cycles of violence”. The recommendations for the SADC stated that “GBV policies should emphasise the role of men as advocates for change and develop rehabilitation programmes as part of GBV prevention support to those who wish to change their behaviour”, and that the EAC’s “GBV policies need to include broad definitions of GBV that recognise the violence that men experience. Men’s cultures of violence also need to be addressed”.

In 2013 Sonke will disseminate the findings of this report in the form of shortened policy reports in order to further strengthen regional collaboration and dedication to engaging men and boys in GBV prevention