Men have been identified as critical agents in bridging the gender inequality gaps and issues on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights.
Over the years, men have been an untapped resource in such gender initiatives which had contributed to the lag in achieving greater successes in that area.
As a way to address the gap, the Department of Gender of the Western Region has engaged and sensitized about 90 men and boys drawn from the Wassa East District to be “change agents” in ending gender inequalities.
The Department of Gender under the auspices of the Western Regional Coordinating Council with support from the Joint UNFPA and UNICEF Programme organised the programme.
Ms Maribel Okine, the Acting Director of the Department, reiterated the need for men and boys to support their female counterparts to develop their potentials for development in all facets of life.
“Historically, men and boys were seen as custodians of power within the society; and therefore the need to engage with them to create gender awareness for them to support in the eradication of customs and systems that perpetrated inequalities against women,” she noted.
The forum, therefore pointed out the critical roles of men and responsibilities in working towards a gender equitable community for the benefit of all.
Several International conferences on gender equality such as the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the 48th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2004 among others acknowledged the enormous role of men and boys in achieving gender equality.
Recently in 2014, the UN Women launched the “HeForShe campaign”, a global solidarity movement for gender equality, with the aim of engaging and encouraging men and boys to take action against gender inequality which women across the world face.
The DCE for Wassa East District Assembly, Mr Wilson Arthur in his welcoming statement, appreciated the Western Regional Coordinating Council (WRCC) with the support of the joint United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Children’s Fund for implementing the programme in the District for a year now.
He said men needed to understand the dynamics of a developed world where women were not side-lined, but given the opportunity to contribute their quota to the developmental efforts of their homes and their communities.
Mr. Arthur therefore entreated the participants to part ways with stereotypical ideologies about women and support them in whatever way they could to bring about fairness and sustainable development within the District and the nation.
Some participants appreciated the programme saying, “we have come to understand that both men and women have a responsibility in the home and community in the upbringing of children”.
Mr. Emmanuel Quansah, Secretary of the Ebukrom Youth Association said, “I have also come to understand that men can empower women as well through education by encouraging young girls in the schools and churches in our community… I am thereby going to partner with the Gender Department to organize such fora continuously in our community to build the minds of my fellow youth in Ebukrom to be able to withstand at early youthful decision making regarding to sex and marriage”.
He advocated that women be included in the decision-making processes in the community, citing Unit Committee and other local government systems as avenues for women’s perspective to be brought to bear on issues affecting the community.
Mr. Agyapa Buah of the Support for Community Mobilization Projects/Programmes (SCMPP), an NGO took participants through the basic concepts of gender advocated roles to be modified in households to enable the potentials of both boys and girls to be developed.
He spoke against some poor socialization processes that reinforced gender inequalities and called for family dialogue.
Ms. Kuntu Anaman, the Deputy Regional Focal person for Adolescent Development Programme took participants through the components of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Ms Anaman stated that Sexual Reproductive Health and Right was not only about family planning, but a state where an individual enjoyed a complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to sexuality and the reproductive system.
She encouraged participants to have visions for the boys growing up, even if there were no role models in their community to inspire them, “Do not engage in indiscriminate sexual activities to exhibit your manliness”.
“HIV/AIDS and other health conditions are factors you should consider at this stage of your life to enjoy a safe and sound Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights,” she admonished.
Ms Anaman informed participants that the Sexual Reproductive Health services rendered by the Ghana Health Service for people did not only cover family planning but also addressed issues including counselling, personal hygiene, alcohol, drug and substance abuse, as well as preventing common disease infections among adolescents seeking help for drug abuse and health care needs.
Ms Anaman also educated the participants on the COVID-19 pandemic and entreated them to strictly abide by the WHO and Ghana Health Service protocols outlined to curb the spread of the virus and its related casualties.
She urged them to also take proper care of the reusable nose masks to prevent being infected and endeavour to eat balanced diet and be active.