Malawi men’s sexual reproductive health participation encouraged

Men’s participation in reproductive health education can reduce to a considerable extent deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth complications, gender and human rights actives have said.

Presentations made by the activists in the Capital Lilongwe at a Population Reference Bureau (PRB) three-day journalist’s workshop funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have indicated that for a long time the area of reproductive health has focused on women only, leaving out the men who are the key players.

Marcel Chisi, National Director at ‘Men for Gender Equality Now’ (MeGEN), a network that works with men from different backgrounds and profession on gender and women’s human rights, said men need to be provided with information and skills in order to participate in family planning and prevent unintended pregnancies within and outside their marriages.

MeGEN National Director Marcel Chisi - photo by Sella Pumani
MeGEN National Director Marcel Chisi – photo by Sella Pumani

He said when a man becomes well-informed about reproductive health like knowing what and when to do or refrain from doing when his wife is pregnant, dangerous signs of pregnancy, child delivery preparations and how to help her expectant wife, puts the wife in a safe child delivery environment.

“Men have always been left out on sexual reproductive health programs maybe because of cultural and traditional masculine norms. Therefore men want information, services and also need relationship skills because they have influence on family formation and contraception, pregnancy and childbirth” said Chisi in his presentation.

He also said the network has different activities in relation to population and reproductive health issues which include the ‘Husband Schools’ that deal with men and boys marital relations.

“We organize campfire conferences as to reach to the hard to reach men, peer education, training men in promotion of maternal health, SRH and role of men in family planning. We as well train grassroots members on gender and development,” he said.

Malawi Human Rights Resources Centre (MHRRC), Programme Manager Emma Kaliya said it is ideal to promote gender issues relating to population. She observed that Malawi as a country needs to be serious and do more in educating people in the communities about the negative impacts of population growth.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to educate the masses on the implications of having huge families. If you can go to Central hospital you will find a lot of people waiting for the same services. So if our budget and population doesn’t match then problems will always be there,” noted Kaliya.

She disclosed that men push the blame on women saying they mostly insists on having a lot of children as a way of securing their marriages. She also emphasizes that awareness’s on the implications of having a large population be made.

“If you ask men about these issues they tell you the women always want to have more children as a security to them. So we need to engage both men and women and enlighten them about how having more children affects and exert pressure on social services” said Kaliya adding that communities need to start using Family Planning methods to make sure we reduce population.

In an interview country coordinator for PRB Sandra Mapemba said the issue of power play and inequalities revolve around family planning and reproductive health, the reason PRB found it necessary to train journalists to understand the link between family planning, gender and development to educate the society on reproductive health issues.

“A lot of women are either stopped from using contraceptives by their partners because of lack of information and empowerment between the two. Which means the woman might be forced to have several children without proper child spacing, therefore she’s unable to contribute to development. So we thought journalists should inform the public and decision makers to look into policies that affect this,” said Mapemba.

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