Outreach with men in Zimbabwe

You may be now very familiar with the main focus of our Zimbabwean partner Nehemiah Project’s Shining Star programme. Their mission is to empower girls and women, who have been driven to sex work, to be in control of their health and to be equipped to generate other income streams. This is achieved through training the ladies as sexual health peer educators and in vocational and business skills.

But did you know that an important strand of the Shining Star programme is their outreach with men?

If they are to reduce the demand for sex work, prevent HIV transmission, and change misogynistic attitudes towards women, Shining Star also needs to work with the men who pay for sex, and men in the general population.

They challenge them to value and respect women, and provide them with education about the characteristics of a healthy relationship, safer sex and HIV.

The winning team at a police sports tournament where men were encouraged to be champions of women

There is a strong positive interest from men in having these conversations. Lunchtime groups with men at workplaces and universities and talks at local churches promote helpful discussions about attitudes, culture and women’s rights.

The Shining Star team also reaches men at night in sex work hot spots such as bars and clubs, and conducts street walks in the busy streets and marketplace of Bulawayo to provide men with HIV information, condoms and HIV self-testing kits. 

To reach uniformed men, Shining Star organises regular sports tournaments with armed forces and police groups. These have proved very popular, with over 150 men attending each event and talking about gender-based violence and HIV services.