The Maputo Symposium is a MenEngage Africa event which will bring together up to a thousand participants, among whom academics, activists, government and UN representatives to share their perspectives and experiences in the search of ways to reach gender equality and transformation of social norms towards social justice in the continent.
The Maputo Symposium will build on from the first MenEngage Africa symposium on Strengthening Capacity of Civil Society and Government to Work with Men and Boys, which took place in Johannesburg 2009, in partnership with Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Commonwealth Foundation, UNICEF East Africa and the Ford Foundation. The first MenEngage Regional Symposium in Sub-Saharan Africa (2009, South Africa) led to the MenEngage Africa Declaration and Call to Action.

The overarching objective is to foster partnerships between governments, civil society actors, academics, researchers, donors and the larger public in order to attain gender justice and human rights in the continent.
The specific objectives of the Symposium are:

• Share evidence of impact, resources and practices related to work with men and masculinities for the promotion of gender equality in the continent;

• Stimulate conversations, relationships and collaborations around gender transformative approaches between academics, activists, experts, and practitioners from different disciplines;

• Strengthen regional political dialogue about masculinities and accountability to women, LGBT and other socially repressed groups, including follow up of international commitments;

• Strengthening participants’ ability to adopt and implement multi-pronged approaches on tackling gender inequalities, development and human rights at policy, programme and service provision levels;

• Develop a unified regional vision on the gender transformative approaches to engaging men and boys in transforming masculinities and supporting women’s empowerment, within the scope of sustainable development goals.

Background and rationale
MenEngage Alliance strengthens its focus on the aspirations of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its principle of “No One Left Behind”, with the vision to end poverty and its manifestations, including feminization of poverty; to combat inequalities within and among countries to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to contribute to the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.

Sexual violence continues to be strongly used as a weapon of war, as well as a form of power affirmation, especially in the Great Lakes region and South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of women were victims of rape during the conflicts affecting those regions. In most cases, African leaders and government, as well as the African Union have not completely fulfilled their role of protecting the human rights and dignity of thousands of women, men and children in situations of conflict.

The Africa region has amongst the highest levels of domestic violence and rape of any region in the world. Levels of gender-based violence (GBV) are high across the continent and include physical violence, sexual violence (at home, at work and in schools), female genital mutilation (FGM) and inability to negotiate condom use. Women are thus rendered disproportionately vulnerable to the HIV pandemic not only by gender violence, but also by conditions of poverty, limited empowerment and entrenched gender inequalities.

Men are not just agents of infection; their health and well-being are also jeopardized by rigid gender roles. Thus, it is imperative that we focus attention on the intersections between Men and Masculinities, GBV, gender inequality, and HIV, and target laws and programmes to address these epidemics.

Unfortunately, most African countries still persecute the LGBTIQA people. Same-sex relations are still illegal in 36 of the continent’s 54 countries, according to Amnesty International, and are punishable by death in states such as Mauritania, Nigeria and Sudan. It is important that governments throughout the continent do adhere to their commitments to protect the rights of all people in Africa, especially LGBTIQA.

There is an increasing realisation of the fact that spirituality, faith, religion and cultures around individuals, families and communities at large are so deeply ingrained at individual level and play crucial roles in shaping individual identities and practices within various relationships around them. Many are aware about faith and religion contributing to (re)shaping the gender relationships and discourses and how faith and religion (or religious interpretations) keep on reinforcing stereotypical norms at a personal level and daily basis, deeply.

Notwithstanding that the African continent has registered important progress at the level of legislation, policies and services for the realization of women’s rights, gender equality and human rights, there is a lot to be done particularly on issues such as conflicts, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive and health and rights, including early and forced marriages and HIV.

While work with men has demonstrated significant potential in building gender equality and improving men’s and women’s health, most has been local in scale and limited in scope. To be effective at the societal level – to transform the pervasive gender inequalities that characterise nations and regions around the world – work with men needs to be scaled up. This means acting as a collective to promote positive engagement of men and boys, embeds this work into public policy and work with the women’s rights movement to move gender transformation ahead.

The symposium will address some of these concerns to expand the works around transforming masculinities and engaging boys and men in gender justice.

Theme and tracks
The overall theme is Partnerships for Gender Justice in Africa. This theme will be operationalized through the following tracks:

Violence against Women and Gender-based Violence
– including violence and gender-based discrimination, harmful practices and sexual violence, violence against children, violence between men, and suicide.

Health and well-being
– including sexual and reproductive rights, HIV and AIDS, non-infectious diseases, mental health, health systems, health equity and search for health services by men (testing, treatment, preventive services in general, etc.), family planning and substance abuse.
Unpaid Care Work
– Poverty, social exclusion and work, including care work, domestic work, means of subsistence, unemployment and migration.

Care, emotions and men’s health
– including role change and relationships at domestic land general levels, positive fatherhood, responses and economic, social and environmental transformations.

Sexuality and identitiesh
– sexual diversity, LGBT movements, homo/transphobia, inclusive masculinities, vulnerabilities, hegemons and sexuality constructions.
Non-violence, Peace and Justice
– including ethnic conflicts, structural violence, militarisation, peace building and post-conflict management, social inclusion and justice.
Construction of masculinities in the continent
– including tradition, rites of passage, religion, socialisation, education, culture, ethnicity, social norms, violent and oppressive masculinities, faith-based approaches, media and culture.
Accountability and Partnerships
– SDGS, accountability frameworks, responsibility and ownership


The Second MenEngage African Symposium will offer a very limited number of scholarships for participants, therefore, applicants are encouraged to seek funding to cover their expenses.
The scholarships will prioritize a) applicants with accepted abstracts b) young African men and women c) other groups from resource limited settings across the continent. Applicants should send a letter of motivation and CV to the following e-mail:

The scholarship will include one or all of the items below:

• Registration fee waiver
• Economy class ticket
• Visa fees
• Economic accommodation
• Small perdiem for meals
• Ground transport


The organisers of the Maputo Symposium are Rede HOPEM and Eduardo Mondlane University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on behalf of MenEngage Africa.


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About the Maputo Symposium

About Symposium

The Maputo Symposium is a MenEngage Africa event which will bring together up to a thousand participants, among whom academics ...

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