The UCLA Bixby Center on Population and Reproductive Health and James S. Coleman African Studies Center organize a two day-gathering to assess how family planning policy and anti-HIV/AIDS efforts would look different with greater attention to African boys, men and masculinities.
More than 100 participants from research institutions and nongovernmental organizations exchanged views Oct. 14–15 at the School of Public Affairs on local notions of masculinity across Africa and how they affect matters such as fertility rates, contraceptive use, HIV/AIDS prevention and related policies. The conference on "Men, Masculinities and Family Planning in Africa" was co-organized by the UCLA Bixby Center on Population and Reproductive Health and the James S. Coleman African Studies Center.
While interpreting everything from survey data to popular culture, the conferees paid special attention to relationships. When women seek advice and health care in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya or Zimbabwe, they and their service providers also have men's concerns to consider and to contend with.
"People do not operate autonomously, but always in a context," said Northwestern University Professor Caroline Bledsoe, who delivered one of three keynote lectures at the conference. The others were by Dr. Isaiah Ndong, vice president for programs at New York–based EngenderHealth, and University of Toronto Professor Mark Hunter. Six panels considered issues including how masculinity is construed in specific locales, concurrent sexual partnerships, varied aspirations about fertility and the male-female power dynamics of contraceptive use.