Two UNFPA-supported projects dealing with men have been voted as among the 'Women Deliver 50' most inspiring ideas or solutions in terms of delivering for women. The competition, organized by Women Deliver in conjunction with International Women's Day, celebrates the progress made on behalf of girls and women worldwide.
The Schools for Husbands, launched by UNFPA in Niger, educates married men on reproductive health in order to improve access to maternal and newborn health services. The schools, which are endorsed by official authorities, traditional leaders, and religious leaders, bring together well-respected men in the community, twice a month, to discuss specific concerns centered on reproductive health.
Male students work in conjunction with a women's support group, with the aim of finding solutions that will improve maternal health in Niger; a country with one of the world's highest maternal mortality rates. Since the establishment of the schools, the use of contraceptives and number of visits to integrated health centers has increased and the number of births attended by skilled health workers, doubled. In total, 137 schools have been established in the Zinder region of southern Niger, with others scheduled to open in the western Maradi and Tahoua regions, in the coming month.
Real Men Never Hit Women was a three-year national public awareness campaign in Macedonia led by the UNFPA that aimed to reduce violence against women. Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Macedonia: a 2006 study estimated that half of all women have experienced psychological abuse, one in six has experienced physical abuse, and one in 10 has experienced sexual abuse. Using Macedonian athletes and female leaders as spokespeople, the Real Men Never Hit Women campaign spreads positive messages to address the role of men in domestic violence, empower women to say "no" to violence, and emphasize that every person has a role to play in combating domestic violence. Over the course of three years, the campaign aired over 4,000 television spots, placed 200 advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and was featured on the radio nearly 10,000 times. Through this outreach, the campaign significantly increased the number of calls to the Macedonia's national domestic violence helpline and brought domestic violence out of the shadows.
"The fact that the two winning projects both specifically address men validates what we already know: that real change and lasting solutions for empowering women and girls can be considerably enhanced by actively involving men and boys," said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Out of hundreds of submissions from 103 countries around the world, a selection committee of experts and advocates from leading global non-governmental organizations and foundations narrowed the applications to 125 nominees. These were then posted online and more than 6,000 individual voted to select the 50 winners.
In all, eight UNFPA-supported projects in four different categories were among the 125 nominees. They include:
Advocacy and Awareness Campaigns:
- UNFPA: Husband Schools for Maternal Health in Niger
- UNFPA, Youth Action for Change (YAC) and Youth Dividend: Youth & the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) E-Course
- UNFPA, Community Midwives Education Program, Afghan Midwives Association: Rewarding the Heroic Work of Midwives in Afghanistan
Technologies and Innovations:
- Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) and UNFPA: M-PESA - Using Mobile Phones to Tackle Fistula in Tanzania
- Gloag Foundation, USAID, UNFPA, and Airel: Sierra Leone Fistula Hotline - Dial 555 for Help on Fistula
- Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition and UNFPA: AccessRH - an innovative procurement mechanism'
Flickr photograph via Gates Foundation.