On 19 November 2015 the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) will be joining hands with South African men and other men in more than 50 Countries to celebrate International Men’s Day under the theme “Working to expand reproductive options for men”. This year’s theme seeks to forge collective effort within society to address issues of reproductive health for men as individuals, fathers, brothers, husbands, partners and so on. The Commission for Gender Equality is aware that there are numerous challenges that affect men’s reproductive health not only around the world but also in South Africa, and that men often do not receive the necessary attention and support needed to deal with these Challenges. Issues, such as family planning, limited choices relating to reproductive health issues, sexual health and safe sexual practices are often more critical that society is aware of in determining the life chances of men. In our journey to promote healthy relations between men and women, the CGE is convinced that more attention needs to be given to issues that affect men’s reproductive with the aim of expanding the choices available to men.
Often times men are subjected to impossible and contradictory expectations, stemming from a modern, human rights-based socio-political context on the one hand, cultural expectations and stereotypes about men’s role in society and within the traditional family structure.
In addition, studies have shown that men tend to neglect matters relating to their reproductive health. Men, like women, also suffer from health related conditions and illnesses such as depression, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, gender based violence, sexually transmitted illnesses (including HIV/AIDS infections) and so on, and yet studies have shown that men are generally more likely than women to refuse, ignore advice on health related matters or be reluctant to visit health care facilities such as clinics and hospitals until very late to seek medical assistance.
In many parts of our country, and indeed in other parts of the world, due to ignorance or patriarchal stereotypes and unrealistic notions of manhood, men are often under pressure not to succumb to ill-health or show signs of physical incapacity, lest this is seen as a sign of weakness – often regarded as undesirable in a man. The CGE therefore calls upon society in general, and in particular institutions such as the media, faith based organisations, health care facilities, traditional leadership structures and civil society organisations to work with men and encourage healthy attitudes towards men’s reproductive health, whether in the workplace or around the home and family. It is critical for us as a society to work towards making relevant information and knowledge available for men to improve their reproductive health chances.
The CGE also encourages men to play their role not only as fathers, husbands, brothers and partners, but also as appropriate role models for young boys and men in preparations to face the realities of modern societies often characterised by socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and the powerlessness that comes with it. These are often cited as factors leading to high levels of abuse and domestic violence against women in South Africa.
The CGE calls upon men to use the International Men’s Day to reflect on the challenges they face relating to reproductive health matters, and to seek greater access to information, support services and advice. Society needs not only healthy women, but also healthy men to defeat the scourge of gender inequality. The Commission for Gender Equality therefore wishes that on this day – the International Men’s Day – men would seek more opportunities to elevate matters of their reproductive health to a higher level
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS