Working together for gender-equitable parenting: more from the MenCare 2013 Global Meeting
The Fatherhood Institute has been advocating for involved fatherhood in the UK since 1999, and in that time we have worked to change the narrative on fathers and fatherhood at all levels of UK society – from politicians and policymakers through to practitioners dealing with families in a variety of settings, the media and members of the public (including dads themselves).
We’ve had successes along the way, but also plenty of frustrations. We’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, when you’re working for big societal changes, on many different fronts – and if you haven’t already, we’d love you to read our story in Advocating for Involved Fatherhood. It gives a brief resume of our journey, with a particular focus on the messaging we’ve used, the evidence base we’ve developed, and the impact we’ve had on UK policy.
But despite having been delighted to share some key messages in our workshop at the event, we don’t pretend we know all the answers. There’s always more to learn – which is why if you work in our field – whoever you are – we’d love you to fill in our survey to share your experiences.
At this week’s MenCare global fatherhood conference in South Africa, we’ve had a fantastic opportunity (thanks to the Bernard van Leer Foundation, who also provided funding for us to write Advocating for Involved Fatherhood) to meet campaigners, activists, researchers, theorists and policy specialists in connecting fields across the world – all keen to share their approaches and perspectives on how best to promote men’s involvement as equitable, responsive and non-violent fathers and care-givers.
The sheer range and diversity of contributors to the event has been so huge that it would be impossible to do them justice without writing a book, but here’s a brief list of some which particularly caught our eye (and with humble apologies to those we’ve missed or not properly connected with):
- The All-Ukrainian Papa Schools Network, which runs free educational peer-mentoring training, delivered by volunteer dads, across much of the Ukraine
- ECPAT, an NGO based in Guatemala which works to eliminate child prostitution, child pornography and child sex trafficking, and is also working with couples to prevent violence against pregnant women and promote men’s involvement in the pre- and post-natal periods
- MenCare Chile, coordinated by the MenEngage Network, EME and a Chilean NGO, Cultura Salud – which has produced materials for expectant and new fathers and is training professionals to work in more father-inclusive ways, using Program P (see below).
- Men for Gender Equality, a Swedish member-based NGO which works to promote gender equality through fathers’ groups both in Sweden and internationally, including in Russia, Belarus, Vietnam and Ethiopia
- REDMAS (Masculinity Network for Gender Equality) – a coalition of 22 Nicaraguan organisations working together on gender and masculinity issues with boys and men from diverse social backgrounds, working to address a variety of issues including sexual and other forms of child abuse, and create ‘safe spaces’ for men to reflect on and adopt non-violent and more gender-equitable lifestyles and relationships
- Rutgers WPF, a Dutch organisation specialising in sexual and reproductive health and rights and working in Africa, Asia and South America as well as in the Netherlands; it is coordinating MenCare Plus, which is a pilot covering South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Rwanda, implementing the full range of interventions envisioned by the MenCare global fatherhood campaign
- Stepping Stones International, a Botswana-based NGO promoting active paternal involvement via fathers’ support groups, and with a particular focus on gender equality
- Other initiatives from around the world that contributed to the event included: ACEV (Turkey); Amhara Women Entrepreneurs Association (Ethiopia); Centre for Health and Social Justice (India); Centre for Social Development in Africa (South Africa); Centre for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender (Vietnam); Families South Africa Western Cape (South Africa); Fathers in Africa (South Africa); Lifeline/Childline Namibia; South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council; Men’s Development Network (Ireland); Mosaic (South Africa); Northern Way from St Petersburg (Russia); the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association, Rifka Annisa and Rutgers WPF (all from Indonesia); Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre; Save the Children; Klub Lvov (Belarus); Canada’s White Ribbon Campaign and its brilliant co-founder Michael Kaufman; and World Vision Sri Lanka
- And last but not least, the Fatherhood Institute!
MenCare offers support to such programmes, organisations and initiatives by providing advice and resources for effective campaigning and media work, and policy and programme recommendations (including Program P, a manual for engaging men in fatherhood, caregiving and maternal and child health, developed by Brazilian NGO Promundo and South Africa-based NGO Sonke Gender Justice Network along with CulturaSalud/EME and REDMAS). It is coordinated by Promundo and Sonke, and the external evaluator is Nikki van der Gaag. As one of the partners in this initiative we look forward to following, and hopefully contributing to, its development, over the next three years – and to building on the connections we’ve made at this excellent event.
If you’ve never heard of MenCare, it’s time you did: here’s their website. It’s great to know we’re not alone!
Tags: Gender equality, Gender-equitable parenting, International, masculinities, MenCare, Parenting education