Ubuntu Symposium Roundtable

Hello! MenEngage Africa invites you to a round-table discussion that is taking place as part of the ongoing Ubuntu Symposium. The roundtable will focus on How to recover from the Gag Rule: The Youths’ Lens.

DATE: Wednesday, 10 March 2021

TIME: 9am – 11am CAT

The Mexico City Policy, also referred to as the “Global Gag Rule”, was first enacted by the President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It initially forced organisations to make the choice whether to implement comprehensive sexuality services without US funding or opt to comply with the conditions attached to US funding to not utilise these funds for work of that nature. Every President following the Reagan administration had the option to implement this policy or enhance it. President Obama, for example, rescinded the Gag Rule (Guttmacher.org).  

In 2017, the Trump administration reinstated and made further restrictions on the policy gagging any organisation receiving US government funds from engaging in activity aimed at promoting abortion services. To date, there has not been evidence of any positive developments stemming from its implementation. Instead, research has consistently demonstrated that the Gag Rule lacks any public health value and is largely harmful (Wojnar, E 2018). 

Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic even exacerbated the impact of the Gag Rule because the pandemic even further reduced access to SRHR, including contraceptive services by women and girls due to movement restrictions that were instituted in a bid to contain the spread. 

According to the Daily Nation’s July 13 2020 report titled “Kenya’s pregnancy crisis”, it was reported that approximately 20,825 girls aged between 10 – 14 years were pregnant or gave birth during the lock down and additional 24,106 aged between 15 – 19 years became mothers or were pregnant.

In January 2021 after his inauguration, President Joe Biden decided to rescind the Mexico City policy, immediately lifting the barriers that the policy had put on organisations providing SRHR with abortion services.

As part of the ongoing Ubuntu Symposium activities, MenEngage Africa will be hosting a roundtable discussion, taking stock of the impact of the Gag Rule on SRHR services during the Covid-19 pandemic, and what the rescindment of the Gag Rule means for MEA in the Biden era.

The session will be moderated by Bruce Sakindi, a 22-year-old Rwandan author, serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and thought leader. 

On the panel we will have

  • Raissa Gaju, Co-Founder and General Secretary of Grow Up Smart Organisation. 
  • Kasozi Umar, a SRHR trainer with more than four years’ experience of working with young people and men in scaling up the uptake and understanding of sexual reproductive health commodities and rights. 
  • Klaivert Mwandingi, who believes a few of the promises made in Nairobi during ICPD 25 are yet to be fulfilled in Namibia. These unmet promises range from achieving a low to zero unwanted teenage pregnancy rates, youth involvement in policy making and condom education. 
  • Norah Nakyegera, a women’s rights activist who is committed to advocating and promoting the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights of adolescents and young people. 

Be sure not to miss out on this conversation! 

For more information about this round-table, please contact: 

Josephine Mukwendi, MenEngage Africa Specialist, on josephine@genderjustice.org.za.  

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