We love men who grow moustaches to highlight health issues. In fact, we think such men are super cool so we spoke to two men who choose to get involved and make a difference, DESMOND LUNGA
Team Leader at Men and Boys for gender equality and media personality and thought leader, Phenyo Phenyo Moroka about Movember, an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness on men’s health issues.
PHENYO MOROKA SAYS: “To me, Movember represents a unique opportunity to bring men’s health issues to the spotlight. Fortunately I’ve never had a health scare. I played a lot of sport growing up so that generally kept me healthy. It is only in adulthood that I sort of let myself go but even then I’ve always been somewhat selective of what I eat so I’ve always had my cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure in check.”
Moroka, 33, says there is truth in that men don’t engage in the health talk as widely as they should.
“That’s absolutely true, and I think the reason is as men, even in 2016, we’re still susceptible to the notion that we can’t show any weakness or vulnerability, so as long as we keep relatively active and generally feel well we ignore our health until it’s too late. We need to force the conversation! Lifestyle diseases, especially cancer and heart disease, are killing us faster and younger than ever before, and this is where those in the public eye have to take the lead; not just by initiating the conversation but by positively changing their lifestyles and leading by example.”
The charming Moroka says much more needs to be done beyond the month of November.
“Men’s health issues need to be brought to the fore. It’s nowhere near enough that we only focus on men’s health issues in November. Everyone needs to play an active role in sensitizing society on these issues. Men need to make conscious decisions regarding their health. We need to make healthy food choices and make regular physical activity part of our lifestyles. Most importantly we need to seek medical attention and go for full medical examination at least once a year!
Team Leader at Men and Boys for gender equality – a non-governmental organization that was set up to respond to the need to meaningfully engage men as partners in ending gender based violence and care givers; Desmond Lunga explains that males hardly speak openly about health issues.
“It is mainly because of how they have been socialized. Men are not expected to be emotive, hence cannot be seen crying, they are expected to be strong; are the leaders, providers and the disciplinarians. Therefore men are under immense pressure such that even when they are sick they cannot seek medical attention because they are expected to be strong and any sign of emotion is viewed as weak and not manly. Most men are embarrassed to accept this.”
Lunga is a father, husband, gender activist, motivational speaker and Entrepreneur with an illustrious portfolio.
“I believe I am an advocate for change.
Part of the MBGE mandate is to focus on gender transformative interventions with both men and boys to take action to end violence against women and children; prevent HIV and reduce alcohol consumption through interactive participation in Sexual and Reproductive health issues.
Lunga goes on to say; “It is in realization that at one point, every man will be a father, brother etc. hence creating males that are able to show emotion and will subsequently curb or reduce the gender based violence attributable to men and boys. Additionally, men are able to take on additional parenting chores and support their families.”
Through partnerships and integrated programmes including radio and television, Lunga and his team tackle issues and engage with participants involving both men and women.
“Our services are accessed by women that have been abused or jilted by their partners, couples going through divorce seeking mediation, fathers seeking assistance with custody application, expectant fathers, parents with children that have alcohol and drug problems, men and boys; corporate companies for workplace wellness programs including employee counseling and youthengagement. I further oversee program implementation and evaluation. I also provide guidance to the newly established Botswana Men Engage Network made up of 16 local Non-Governmental Organization. My position also supports the Global Men Care Programme who’s Secretariat in the Southern Region is with the Sonke Gender Justice, South Africa.
“We view men and women as partners. Healthy individuals make better choices. It is time for the man to take a stand and not have bad things attributed to them. Men must stand up and be counted.