Pathfinder’s USAID-funded Afya Pwani Project in Kenya strengthens the delivery of HIV and reproductive health services, including contraceptive and sexual and gender-based violence services.
Male champions in Kilifi County—a place with the some of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies in the country—are engaged to build community awareness on these issues, and act as role models who stand by the side of women and girls in their lives.
Male engagement is a vital part of the Afya Pwani project, as culture still dictates that men are the ultimate decision-makers. Male champions exhibit how joint decision-making between couples can lead to healthier outcomes for the entire family.
Male champions serve as role models in Kilifi County. They practice family planning, support their wives with raising their children and taking care of the household, and act responsibly for the health of their entire families.
“Nowadays, if a man is spotted carrying a kid to the clinic while accompanied by his wife, people will laugh. But I hope that in the near future, it will be to the contrary: if a man will not help out his wife, he will be laughed at.”
— Francis Kadenge, male champion
“Girls who use protection will have [plenty of] time to continue with their studies. This will help them and give them chance to get themselves into different fields—politics, business, other fields of development—instead of bearing children while young. If the woman gets educated, then the whole family will be educated, and eventually the whole society.”
— Peter Mbaya, male champion
“In our culture of Mwenyekenzi, the woman usually goes alone to the clinic. Even when she reaches there carrying one child at her back and holding one on her hands, when asked about family planning, she says Mwenyekenzi.
I set the first example and went with my wife to the clinic. When I enter through the door, everyone notices my presence. You understand? We are trying to make changes: all those old cultures, about Mwenyekenzi, we need to completely finish it, embrace family planning, and plan for our children responsibly.”
— Benson Manyele, male champion
*Mwenyekenzi can be translated as “owner has refused,” or in this case, “man has refused.”
“Even when the girl is continuing with her studies she should practice family planning, as she will study until she finishes, so that she will not have unplanned pregnancies. For the woman, if given family planning, it will help her plan for her future life as well as her family and how she will live. It will also give her the opportunity to regain her strength, since she will have time to rest in the midst of pregnancies. That’s my advice to girls and women so that their future can be bright.”
— Katana Kiricha Ngawa, male champion
“Our houses are not so big. They are actually tiny, but you will find a man sleeping with his wife on a bed and those children who have not even been planned will lie down on the floor. The child will not sleep and when he goes to school he becomes dull because he can’t even concentrate with the teacher. So I ask Afya Pwani to add more male champions.”
— Benson Manyele, male champion
“As a male champion, I see a big opportunity if I perform my job well. In the society, people will view me as a good leader and a good example of how I have planned [my family] myself. In the community, they will see a family that is of good health—that eats, sleeps, and dresses well.”
— Kombe Nzae, male champion