Male inclusion in sexual and reproductive health initiatives: A training approach to involve more men from conservative Asian societies

Guest Blogger- Sarmad Muhammad Soomar

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While working in the field of sexual health I used to reflect on a statement learnt in Urdu literature during my college days. It stated that men and women are the two wheels of the life. And this journey of life carries with harmony and understanding in relationships. The idea always connected with the work in which I used to get involved. I social boundaries of Asian countries we always have seen men as dominant personalities and as decision makers. I used to observe and think over it, whenever I am involved in any activity that relates to sexual health, abortion, harassment or puberty, I see less or no men involved. Initially it felt me that its part of their interest and no one can be pressurized to come but later on I realized that its very import to encourage male inclusion in sexual and reproductive health. If they don’t feel coming in so they should be motivated to become part of it.

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Reflecting and pondering on the previous trainings or sessions that I have attended or facilitated I see some men were working along with the larger group and only few of them persistently involved in advocacy or service provision. But whoever is still continuing that zeal is giving their very best towards the outcome. Even than why we have fewer males to become part of this very primary and provoking discipline. Are men less comfortable in this field or they are not much competent to deal the situations related to these sensitive themes. Is sexual health only related to women?

17888962_1308822592527690_1963931340_nThe answer to above discussion would be probably no. men are confident, comfortable and competent like women to cover audiences for sexual health advocacy, referral and services as well. Men can also deal situations pertaining to this very delicate issue of the era. And yes sexual health is equally related to men alike women. The issue is about values which women also face when they start addressing sexual health concerns of community. Also, men are less encouraged because of prejudice that men won’t be comfortable talking or discussing sexuality.

And we thought instead of believing on a pre develop concept, lets by own practically experience that are men really not interested in sexual health or they feel discomfort in discussing sexuality on broad platforms. Due to time constrain and maintaining quality of training we approached the men who were educated and were in the vicinity. Total twenty five men committed because of various motivating factors and after interviewing and knowing about them many were selected. Among all these selected only twelve men showed up. But in even a smaller group the outcome was extra ordinary and all our assumptions were faded. Initially many of them were quite but as the values were transformed, the discussion went on fire. All participants were eagerly questioning and discussing about themes like masturbation, contraceptives, abortion, incidents of harassment and changes during puberty. Many of them are in process to share the planning of how they can reach their own communities so this information could be disseminated to a larger group.

Yet this short training helped us to understand how necessary it is to include more men in spreading sexual health information.

 

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About Guest Blogger

All guest bloggers are experts in the field of reproductive rights invited by ASAP to write for this blog. If you are interested in contributing please write to us at discussions.asap@gmail.com
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