Gender inequality in Africa continues to undermine democracy, impede development and compromise people’s lives in dramatic ways. Indeed many studies have shown that contemporary gender roles and especially rigid notions of manhood contribute to gender-based violence, and increase in maternal mortality and exacerbate the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS.
Achieving economic, social and development goals within the continent requires individuals, government and civil society to build a more gender equitable society with healthier gender roles for women and men. To be effective, strategies must not only empower women, but should engage men and bring about significant changes in men’s attitudes and practices towards sex, reproduction, women and their own health.
In recognition of the need for a stronger focus on engaging men and boys in promoting gender equality and addressing the public health challenges which the continent faces, the Africa MenEngage Alliance was established. Over a very short period of time this alliance has expanded rapidly, and now has a significant number of members and active country networks. This Alliance recently held a tremendously successful MenEngage Africa Symposium, attracting participants from across the content, and producing the Johannesburg Declaration and Call to Action. Similar developments have taken place across the globe, providing evidence of the growing interest in work with men and boys, and the realization that males have an essential role to play in achieving gender equality and social justice.