By: MenCare Coordinators, Jane Kato (Promundo) and Wessel Van den Berg (Sonke)
If the world is to advance on gender equality, and if men – as individuals and collectively – are to be seen as taking gender equality seriously, men must take on their fair share of the costs, time and care work required in daily life. This will also allow men to more fully experience the benefits of having close, non-violent and caring relationships with others. Campaigns are one way to begin to break with rigid gender norms and expectations.
MenCare, a global fatherhood campaign, was first announced in Women Deliver’s “Celebrating Solutions” as a strategy to address gender inequality and promote men’s involvement as caregivers. Since then, MenCare coordinators, Promundo and Sonke Gender Justice in collaboration with the MenEngage Alliance have made significant strides to disseminate and implement the campaign across numerous settings, as well as increase the evidence base around how engaging men as fathers can promote gender equality and reduce violence against women and children.
Key partners include UN Women, UNFPA, Vital Voices Global Partnership, GBCHealth, the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, CARE-Norway, and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
Promundo is currently coordinating launches in Latin America in both Brazil and Nicaragua during the summer of 2012. Both campaigns will be launched during major community-based events and targeted at the health, education and security sectors. MenEngage partner, Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua will also pilot test an evidence-based MenCare fatherhood manual aimed at expectant fathers. The manual itself, tentatively titled, “Program P,” (“P” for Papa in Spanish and Pai in Portuguese) will be composed of 30+ group activities to conduct with groups of fathers on topics ranging from corporal punishment to violence against women during pregnancy. Expected outcomes from a large scale evaluation include reduced couple stress, increased bonding between father and child, improved birthing experience, increase in number of accompanied prenatal visits by the father, and reduced violence against women during pregnancy.
Sonke Gender Justice first launched MenCare in South Africa to great acclaim in August of 2011 at the Nike Football Centre of Hope. Although they have a history of implementing fatherhood-focused work, the MenCare campaign is a key component to further disseminating lessons learned and implementing evidence-based projects, especially within the context of child right’s work. Upcoming projects include, with support from Sida, working with organizations in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia to establish expectant father support groups. This is in partnership with Men for Gender Equality Sweden, and builds on similar work conducted in Sweden and Eastern Europe. Sonke also plans to coordinate the MenEngage Africa Training Initiative that will include a module on fatherhood and children’s rights. MenCare materials, and campaign kits will also be distributed to MenEngage partner organizations in the region.
The MenCare campaign is framed with the assumption that the participation of men in domestic work, in maternal health, in caregiving professions and as fathers is a necessary and largely overlooked aspect of achieving gender equality and the improvement of children’s rights. Furthermore, the campaign is based on the belief that men’s participation in caregiving in all these dimensions is positive for women, children, societies and men themselves. It provides an alternative identity for men that may serve to galvanize their participation in gender equality in ways that have yet to be fully realized.
To learn more about MenCare’s current projects please contact Jane Kato firstname.lastname@example.org and Wessel Van den Berg email@example.com
Click on the MenCare video below, to view Marcio narrate a personal story about fatherhood, one in a series of upcoming series of personal videos from fathers around the world.
Click here to learn more about Sonke’s existing fatherhood and MenCare programs: http://www.genderjustice.org.za/fatherhood/projects/one-man-can/fatherhood