Engaging men in health education (4) Engaging religious leaders in sexual and reproductive health (3)

21 November, 2019

I can see that is a potential problem with all workshops [*see note below]. Sometimes people absorb new knowledge and change their worldview and other times it's just an opportunity for a great gathering to establish new friendships and a free lunch.

I remember attending many workshops over the years and some are passing on information alone and an expectation that this will just be passed on without communication skills and practise times.

At Wise Choices for Life I was determined to allow time for conversation, sharing of ideas, unpacking beliefs, traditional cultural practises and discuss them in the light of scientific knowledge. Our training is comprehensive starting with basic identity personal life value and allows faith leaders to explore their Biblical principles and see if there are new ways of thinking and interpreting their faiths default position.

We also have time for trainers to practise the communication skills needed to pass this on to the community through creative drama dance song and debates.

Many arrive with some apprehension and feelings of doubt, by the time they have completed the 7 days most of them testify they have not only new ways of thinking for themselves and their family but have confidence to communicate this to the youth in churches / schools / villages and even prisons. Puberty conception pregnancy birth parenting and family planning have been taboo subjects for the faith sector but it can and must change urgently to address maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy and poverty. The health sector needs to be creative, embracing and welcoming of the traditional trusted leaders of the community and include them in the learning. We hold all our trainings in churches, halls, village communities and the leaders then take this into schools prisons and villages.

We have found this to be both exciting, empowering and builds the capacity of the overworked underpaid midwife who is restricted, usually by gender and lack of authority in the community to reach the men. The men need to be reached urgently with new messages of behavioural change but they need to have their position in a patriarchal society respected.

Marg Docking

Executive Director

Wise Choices for Life

The vision of Wise choices for Life is to see thriving communities where every child is born into a caring, healthy and loving family

M +61 (0)423 096 285

E marg@wisechoicesforlife.org

W www.wisechoicesforlife.org

HIFA profile: Marg Docking is founder and director of Wise Choices for Life, which empowers vulnerable men and women in the child bearing age group in Uganda with reproductive health knowledge and skills to break the poverty cycle. marg AT wisechoicesforlife.org

[*note from HIFA moderator: Marg refers to the message from Amelia Abdelrazik, Egypt: http://www.hifa.org/dgroups-rss/engaging-men-health-education-2-engaging... ]