Women's Issues In Guyana

Greater male involvement needed in sexual and reproductive health – Study

Posted in Health Issues by wiig on September 17, 2006
Tags: , , ,

Kaieteur News – September 17, 2006

A recently concluded study, which was done through the collaborative effort of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the University of Guyana (UG), has uncovered that the implementation of a number of strategies could be instrumental in achieving greater male involvement in the issue of sexual and reproductive health.

The study was commissioned by UNFPA and conducted by the Sociology Department of the University.

The findings were unveiled at a seminar held on Thursday at the Sea Breeze Hotel in Kitty.

According to Consultant to the Study and Coordinator of the Social Work Unit of the University of Guyana Dereck Fields, the findings of the study captures the process and execution to fulfil the research goal of ascertaining the knowledge, values, attitudes, behaviours and practice of the sexual and reproductive health among males in Guyana.

Fields said that the study was instrumental in bringing out the voices of men into an area in which they felt uncomfortable to visibly associate, due to the perception that it is a woman’s domain.

He said that the study served to highlight what men believe. It focused on what institutions could do to better capture men’s interest in the health issue; the relationship with their female partners and families; responsibilities of fatherhood; how they view sexuality and sexual health among males; their views/understanding of sexual abuse and rape; and beliefs on contraception, condoms and pregnancy.

Fields said that the study was intended to highlight the fact that sexual and reproductive health is an issue that should be of great importance to all human beings regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, class or creed.

As such, a random sample of 45 men was selected for the study. And while not broad-based, the study targeted four communities in three Regions – Regions Three, Four and Five.

Leonora in Region Three with an East Indian sample; Hopetown, in Region Five from which an Afro Guyanese sample was derived; a sample from Kairuni, an Amerindian community; and Georgetown from which a mixed and professional sample was garnered, were the locations that provided the sample.

In a bid to uncover the knowledge base of those selected, questionnaires and focus group discussions were used.

The survey focused on husbands, fathers, professionals, skilled, semi-skilled, working class persons, farmers, unattached, and the unemployed.

Additionally the views of women from the same communities were solicited to help inform the focus of the study through what they expect of males in sexual and reproductive health, Fields noted.

The survey lasted for about four months having commenced last November.

And the ultimate realisation of the study, according to Fields, is that men do realise that it is their responsibility to protect themselves and live a healthy lifestyle.

However, he notes that there is a need for men to move from a level of knowledge to one of transferring same into practice.

As such Fields said that a number of strategies were highlighted to further foster greater male involvement.

These include targeting workplaces that have a large concentration of male employees; aggressive promotional programmes through the media; paying particular emphasis on key issues in society, such as sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence.

He said that such a study had become necessary since it had become evident that males must be aggressively targeted to be enlightened on the issue of sexual and reproductive health since they too have an important role as women in this issue.

According to Fields over the years, sexual and reproductive health has been perceived as attracting the interest of only females.

However, in recent years there has been awareness by global institutions such as UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), that there is a need to revisit their modus operandi to attract a greater male involvement in the issue.

And since Guyana is no exception to how the sexual and reproductive health programme has been marketed, it is believed that aggressive promotions of the programme have mainly targeted females in society.

Thursday’s seminar attracted Minister within the Ministry of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran, who lauded the efforts of those persons and organisations involved.

Dr. Ramsarran assured that his Ministry would offer any necessary assistance towards the advancement of the study.

In so doing he urged other partner organisations to lend their support to the initiative.

He noted, too, that in an effort to broaden the base of the study to include persons from the hinterland communities, places such as the Cyril Potter College of Education and the Amerindian hostels could be targeted.

And based on comments raised by those present at the seminar yesterday Fields said that he, along with another consultant to the study and lecturer at the University of Guyana , Orin Stephney, will work along with a number of organisations on the way forward for the study.

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