About 300 adult males in Singida and Rukwa region have been trained on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) so that men can become agents of change in reproductive health, reduce HIV/Aids transmission to women and improve women’s health.
Cuthbert Maendaenda, Project Manager of Swedish Association for Sexuality education (RFSU) told The Guardian on Sunday last week these people were trained on it to be peer educators who will train other men in different villages to help men become agents of change in promoting SRHR and tackling gender inequality in their communities.
“As experts engaged in this program our focus was just to involve men in tackling gender inequality in their communities, prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies and reduce maternal and infant deaths countrywide.
The training was offered to men after observing that 50percent of men and women in those regions had never heard about sexual and reproductive health and rights while the other half get information through the media.
Since they started to provide training so far 1.4million people in Rukwa and Singida regions been trained on sexual and reproductive health and rights to enable men in those regions to become agents of change in reproductive health and reduce HIV/Aids transmission to women. Among those trained about 46percent are men among whom 75percent are youths.
In Rukwa region the project conducted training in 57 wards across Sumbawanga district (rural), Sumbawanga municipality (urban) and Nkasi district, while in Singida region the project covered 62 wards across Singida District (rural), Manyoni district and Singida municipality (urban).
“As RFSU before we give them training, we first carried out research in Singida and Rukwa regions to see if they know SRHR, to what extent have men become more involved in SRHR, how do they get information on SRHR and other issues relating to SRHR,” he stated.
“Many women and men have never heard about sexual and reproductive health and rights. We began to educate them on what is SRHR through the project Tanzanian Men As Equal Partners to get men involved as actors in SRHR promotion and service delivery with an understanding of gender and sexuality,” he elaborated.
The project also encouraged men to become better informed and more involved in SRHR, to first become more active users of SRH services.
Elaborating on why RFSU focus on men in this project, he said they focus on men because in many cases, men have been recognized as the key problem when it comes to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections especially HIV/Aids, sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
During the on-going training both men and women were trained on SRHR and how to get those facilities in various clinics existing in those regions.
While in Rukwa and Singida regions 400 service providers were trained on SRHR so that they can educate men and women within their working premises.
After received training on it right now community leaders, the majority of whom are men have become actively engaged in SRHR, anecdotal evidence of men supporting their spouses with family healthcare responsibilities has increased and adult men above 24 years are accessing information more than adult women.
Also men bringing children for postnatal care has increased, men accompanying their spouses for family planning issues has rise than in the past years.
The growing number of attendances in SRHR promotional activities by men indicates a potential social change in the near future, the manager added.