A common question about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is the role of men and boys (men and boys cover male self-identified bodies with diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and sex characteristics).
From March 2022, the Share-Net Netherlands Community of Practice (CoP) Engaging boys and men in SRHR has become an international community of practice (iCOP) to stimulate knowledge exchange between members from all over the world on this topic. The iCoP is committed to addressing this question to improve and realize SRHR for all women, men, and people with diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, gender expressions, and sex characteristics. To achieve SRHR for all people, we recognise that gender inequalities are key determinants of health. All people are ‘gendered,’ and hence their health, rights, sexuality, and well-being are affected differently by existing gender norms and values, and power dynamics, including heteronormativity. In many circumstances, girls and women are more vulnerable than boys and men to SRHR concerns. Still, it is important to recognize boys’ and men’s vulnerability to dominant patriarchal values and practices. Any effort to engage boys and men should offer space to transform harmful masculinities into positive ones, and examine boys’ and men’s roles in ensuring girls’ and women’s access to resources/power to realise their SRHR/human rights.
The iCoP aims to strengthen the knowledge and capacities of professionals in engaging boys and men in a gender-transformative manner, by addressing underlying root causes related to prevailing power inequalities and rigid gender norms and practices.
We consider intersectional aspects (i.e. age, ethnicity, socio-economic position) of gendered identities and how these different aspects affect people’s access to power, rights, and resources. We advocate for an approach that goes beyond instrumentalism but addresses harmful and risky male behavior and limited perspectives on masculinity to promote diverse and healthy images of manhood.
The community of practice developed an internal glossary paper at the beginning of 2021 to define common terminology (e.g. gender-transformative approaches, intersectionality etc.).
Furthermore, at the heart of the CoP activities has been their work, together with intern Odhran McLaughlin, on a position paper that argues that men and boys have their own sexual and reproductive health issues and concerns. Addressing men’s concerns will have a rippling effect through communities and the wider population, allowing the achievement of SRHR for all.
You can find the position paper – Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: A Position Paper – here.
After shifting from an SNNL CoP to an iCoP in March 2022, bi-monthly meetings are the only activities currently being held. During these meetings, members can share their work related to SRHR and men and boys.
To read more about Share-Net Colombia’s CoP on Abortion and Voluntary Pregnancy Interruption, please visit their main CoP information page.
The CoP was launched in March 2022
For more information about the CoP, please contact Amie Ndong – firstname.lastname@example.org