ADJUST FOR ME: Transforming institutions and communities for better access to SRHR services

Community expectations and power imbalance in intimate partner relationships fuelled by negative social norms especially toxic masculinity are the pillars on which violating the SRHR of young people and women and girls rest. Building communities free of toxic masculinity and improving access to quality SRHR services especially for women and girls, is a great step in ensuring a sustainable society. Within this framework, COMAGEND in partnership with AmplifyChange is implementing a project (A4M24 project) which aims to enhance positive engagements towards masculinity within four communities in the northwest region (Ntarinkon, Nitob II, Ntambag, Mulang I), to increase access to SRHR services and address issues that fuels Gender Based Violence. 

Including key stakeholders in the project implementation is a better way of achieving greater results. To create a collaborative environment and ensure that all relevant parties are actively involved in the project, COMAGEND held a project launch and initiation meeting, graced with the presence of the Mayor of Bamenda II council, the Divisional Delegate of Mezam, the vice president of the Cameroon national youth council northwest region, CSOs, quarter heads and councillors of the four implementing communities. This meeting was aimed at providing a platform for stakeholders to understand the project's objectives, scope, and expected outcomes. The event served as a catalyst for building partnerships and fostering a shared commitment towards improving SRHR services. 

To gather comprehensive data on SRHR needs and challenges of community members, 8 enumerators were selected and trained on effective data collection techniques. As a way of building partnerships, 4 CSOs (SWO, OWED, RECEPEDIS, and GACD) were engaged to act as focal points within these four communities. The trained enumerators selected from these CSOs conducted door-to-door surveys, reaching out to diverse community members and collecting valuable insights. The survey aimed to identify gaps in existing SRHR services, assess community awareness, and gather information on the specific needs and preferences of community members with regards to SRHR and Toxic masculinity. The data collected through these surveys has formed the foundation for evidence-based decision-making throughout the project. 


Building upon the data collected from the door-to-door surveys, the project facilitated 4 focus group discussions in the different implementing communities with community members, community leaders, healthcare professionals and youth leaders. These discussions provided a platform for in-depth exploration of the subject matter, allowing participants to share their experiences, concerns, and aspirations regarding SRHR services and the toxic masculinity traits that exist within those communities. The sessions delved into the social, cultural, and economic factors influencing access to SRHR services, and other factors fuelling GBV, fostering a deeper understanding of each community's unique needs. By involving community members directly in the dialogue, the project ensured that their voices were heard, and their perspectives were considered. To ensure the reliability and validity of the data collected, open community dialogue sessions were organized. These sessions allowed for more community key actors to review and validate the findings from the focus group discussions. The open nature of these sessions encouraged transparency, enabling participants to provide feedback, suggestions, and additional insights. Moreover, the dialogue sessions served as a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices related to SRHR services, empowering communities with accurate information and promoting collaborative problem-solving. 

 COMAGEND has made significant progress as we strive to debunk toxic masculinity and transform institutions and communities for better access to SRHR services. Through the stakeholder mobilization, data collection, focus group discussions, and open community dialogue sessions, the project has fostered collaboration, amplified community voices, and gathered valuable insights on the related concerns. These activities laid the groundwork for evidence-based interventions and the development of targeted strategies to address the specific SRHR needs of the community. Through an inclusive and participatory process, we engage community members of all ages, genders, and backgrounds in a write shop, to develop key advocacy messages that will be used to sensitize the community on the need to access SRHR, debunk toxic masculinity and build healthy communities. By involving and empowering communities, we are a step closer towards building a more inclusive and responsive society.

Fostering Gender Equality and Equal Access to Decision Making.