Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Sexuality health and rights promotion: Men’s active involvement urged

Men have been left behind in the move to emancipate and empower women according to Nonofo Molefhi, an MP for population and development in Botswana, who is due to address delegates to the third Sexual Health and Rights Conference in Abuja today.

“I have come to the realisation that while we were focusing on empowering women, we forgot to take the men with us,” said Molefhi at a press conference at the NACA offices in Abuja on Sunday. “Today’s women are not the mothers of yesterday. They are professionals, they take responsibility for themselves and their families – and men feel threatened because some power has been taken away from them.”

MP Molefhi, who is the chair of a special committee on HIV in Botswana, explained that within Botswana men often react violently to the newfound confidence and assertiveness in women, saying it often leads to heinous crimes. Hinting that as far as men are concerned, it is acceptable for the man to terminate a relationship, but not for women to take the first step to end the relationship. This often results in violence, and even murders. Men are generally away from home more than women, and often tend to have more than one partner, but they fail to realise that their wife will feel violated and betrayed, he said.

Molefhi is calling for campaigns not only to embrace women’s rights, but also for campaigns to assist men to come to terms with contemporary society and the goal of gender equality. To achieve this he laid the responsibility at the door of government, saying they should prioritise resources to improve gender equality and also focus on sexual health issues.

The MP said that most of the money spent on sexual health and related activities were in fact donor money. “It is time that the resource came out of our own national budgets,” he said. Molefhi added that following the Abuja declaration, governments are now required to report on how the requisite 15% of health budget is spent.

* By Sharon Davis

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