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Men As Partners

Symposium on Male Participation in Sexual and Reproductive Health
Oaxaca, Mexico, October 10-14, 1998

"We are looking for men to become partners in supporting power for women," said Oscar E. Contreras Rozas, a counselor of adult and adolescent males at Movimiento Manuela Ramos/ReproSalud and participant in the Oaxaca, Mexico workshop.

AVSC International and International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) hosted a symposium entitled "Male Participation in Sexual and Reproductive Health: New Paradigms" in Oaxaca, Mexico from October 10-14, 1998. One hundred service providers, policy makers, program directors, and donors from 19 countries in the Americas came together to share information and recommendations regarding men's participation in sexual and reproductive health. Seven panels with 22 speakers presented papers on various aspects of masculinity, sexuality, violence, and fatherhood. They discussed sustainability and the challenge of finding resources. Panelists had a wide range of research and program experience in masculinity/ies, sexuality/ies, adolescent development and sexuality/ies, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, violence, and fatherhood. Ten working groups explored these themes further, and participants shared their programmatic experiences during a poster and video session.

The symposium was linked to commitments made at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994, and at the Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) held in Beijing in 1995. In Cairo, participants agreed that "men play an important role in achieving gender equality, since in most societies, they exercise preponderant power in nearly every sphere of life, ranging from personal decisions regarding family size, to all levels of political and program decisions" (ICPD). The Beijing Conference called for men and women to take "responsibility for their sexual and reproductive behaviour" (FWCW).

As part of the commitment to implement agreements reached at these conferences, the objectives of this symposium were to:

  • Create a forum to discuss ways in which men can constructively participate in the care of their own sexual and reproductive health as well as that of their partner.
  • Increase the knowledge of workshop participants about male participation in sexual and reproductive health and gender equity.
  • Provide ideas and materials to initiate, reinforce, and evaluate programs that promote male involvement and gender equity in relation to sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Create and share strategies to overcome gender stereotypes in sexuality and reproductive health.
  • Enhance donor interest and support for initiatives that focus on male participation in sexual and reproductive health in the region.
  • Develop country plans that define specific future actions within each country to foster the involvement of men in sexual and reproductive health.

Results achieved at the symposium include:

  • Institutional and country action plans that explore strategies (e.g., public education campaigns and gender training) for involving men in sexual and reproductive health to advance the agenda of male involvement in reproductive health
  • Evaluation of the symposium and preparation for a nine-month assessment to measure the effects of this conference on research, programs, and policies
  • A strengthened commitment to work toward gender equity
  • The opportunity for men and women to work together, share personal experiences, strengthen professional networks and explore new ideas and strategies to increase men's constructive involvement in reproductive health
  • Collaborative participation by governments, NGOs, and donors
  • An expression of support for a Declaration Against Violence Toward Women

In developing their action plans, participants drew upon case studies of innovative adolescent and adult male health programs in the Americas. AVSC and IPPF conducted these case studies in early 1998 and distributed the printed reports at the symposium, where representatives from the programs in the studies shared recommendations with participants.

AVSC International and IPPF/WHR remain committed to supporting the work with men in the region.

To order the complete report from the Men As Partners Symposium in Mexico, please e-mail

More about MAP workshops.

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