UNFPA Pacific shares lessons with New Zealand

Press Release – UNFPA

UNFPA Pacific shares lessons with New Zealand Parliamentarians: Engaging boys and men in sexual and reproductive health and rights work

UNFPA Pacific, Auckland, NZ, June 29, 2015 – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific Sub-Regional Office (SRO) yesterday shared its experiences and lessons learnt from engaging men and boys in the organization’s work in sexual and reproductive health and rights with the New Zealand Parliamentarian’s Group on Population and Development (NZPPD).

“The UNFPA has a strong mandate to work with men and boys based on a human rights framework that recognizes the sexual and reproductive health and rights, of both men and women,” Dr Laurent Zessler, UNFPA Pacific Director and Representative told the parliamentarian’s group.

Global findings of national surveys on men’s sexual and reproductive health behavior affirm that most sex debuts were before the age of 15. Recent research findings in the Pacific affirmed that men, particularly young men needed more and accurate information on all aspects of sexual and reproductive health.

“Men can be part of the solution for universal access to sexual and reproductive health,” Dr Zessler said during his presentation.

“The question is no longer whether to involve men but rather how to involve men.”

The UNFPA Pacific submitted good practices options including the need for multi-faceted sexual and reproductive health strategy to engage men, education and entertainment programmes for men and young men and specific targeting for certain male groups.

Dr Laurent shared programming and activities the UNFPA Pacific has some of the 14 governments it works with. From as far as 2003 for example, after the Solomon Islands updated its family planning guidelines, which included technical training and outreach specific to men, more men accompanied their wives to clinics, more men advocated for family planning and shared responsibility and by 2007, the contraceptive prevalence rate had increased from 11 per cent to 29 per cent.

In Kiribati, ante-natal clinic counselling began to involve both men and women, integrating respectful relationships and care for the mother.

“Investing in sexual and reproductive health is a sound investment at both national and international levels, it is a crucial and very effective means towards development in the Pacific,” Dr Zessler said.

“Investing in sexual and reproductive health doesn’t only have major health benefits but it is also cost-effective.”

The opening hearing was chaired by the Honorable Barbara Kuriger and organized by the Family Planning New Zealand.

The Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), one of the main international development framework endorsed by global leaders in 1994 provided for “special efforts should be made to emphasize men’s shared responsibility and promote their active involvement in responsible parenthood, sexual and reproductive behavior including family planning, prenatal, maternal and child health, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, prevention of unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, shared control and contribution of family income”.

The above provision has been reiterated in the 2014 SAMOA Pathway endorsed by small island developing states in Apia (Samoa) and the 2013 Pacific Parliamentarian’s Moana Declaration endorsed by Pacific island nation representatives in Suva (Fiji).

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