The Brothers For Life campaign is three years old TODAY- 29 August 2012. Launched by the late Dr. Molefi Sefularo , then Deputy Minister of Health in 2009, the movement that aims to get men to live healthier and more responsible lives, continues to grow in leaps and bounds in the areas of health education and service promotion aimed at addressing key issues such as HIV prevention, medical male circumcision and gender based violence.
Brothers for Life was established as a multi sectoral initiative driven by the partners in SANAC Men's sector, civil society and the private sector. The campaign was developed by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa and is being supported mainly through funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) / President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Over the past three years more than 100 organisations have participated in the implementation of Brothers for Life and the number is still growing.
For the past three years, the campaign has focused its activities on supporting the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB priorities such as the acceleration of programmes to empower women and educate men about their health and well being, the development of a comprehensive package that promotes male sexual health which includes medical male circumcision, HIV Testing, promoting positive male norms, addressing gender-based violence and encouraging male involvement in the expansion of PMTCT services.
Desmond Lesejane, Deputy Director at Sonke Gender Justice, one key implementing partners of the campaign says that Brothers For Life has done well to raise issues and encouraged men to take responsibility of men in the health of their families and to address the barriers that prevent gender transformation in households and communities. "Brothers For Life is a campaign of partnerships and its success is mainly a result of the contribution of all our partners from the smallest communities to the big corporations"
There have been a number of successes in the past three years that stand out including the highly successful gender-based violence focus that featured Patrick Shai's story, the first ever Men of the Year event that allows communities to nominate men who have made a difference in their communities through the SABC radio programmes and the 2010 World cup campaign that brought together global soccer giants FC Barcelona and Manchester United in support of the campaign and more recently, the current medical male circumcision focus.
Brothers For Life has recently won the prestigious 2012 Bees Award, in the Best Use of a Micro-blogging Platform category, for its Twitter Army campaign. The San Francisco-based Bees Awards recognise the best use of social media worldwide edging out much bigger, higher-profile and more expensive social media campaigns for brands such as Nike and Citroen and is currently a nominee at the Africomnet awards to be announced in November.
" The campaign has grown far beyond health and has become a catalyst we use to rally our communities behind causes that tackle violence, rape and harmful cultural practices in our society" says Bob Phato, chairperson of the SANAC Men's sector and Director of Ukhamba projects in Queenstown. " We have an active local Brothers For Life branch that advocates for justice in our community" continues Phato.
Brothers For Life project manager, Mandla Ndlovu echoed Phato's sentiments that the Brothers For Life campaign has managed to bring men forward to take responsibility of their own lives and those of their loved ones.
" The success of the Brothers For Life project is a tribute of the power of partnership and support from government and other civil society partners. We are delighted that the campaign has made some significant strides in encouraging men to do the right thing in our communities".