News / USA

More Than a Provider: Dads Encouraged to Engage in Kids' Lives

The Men Care Campaign is a global effort that encourages fathers to become more involved in their children's lives. (Men Care Campaign)The Men Care Campaign is a global effort that encourages fathers to become more involved in their children's lives. (Men Care Campaign)
x
The Men Care Campaign is a global effort that encourages fathers to become more involved in their children's lives. (Men Care Campaign)
The Men Care Campaign is a global effort that encourages fathers to become more involved in their children's lives. (Men Care Campaign)
Faiza Elmasry
In many societies, fathers are thought of as disciplinarians and providers. But now there's a global fatherhood campaign to encourage fathers to increase their participation in their children lives.

Organizers say the Men Care Campaign benefits the children, the men themselves, and helps reduce violence against women.

Getting involved
 
South Africa is one of the 17 countries where the Men Care Campaign is underway. It was launched there in 2011, the same year Jean-Marie Mkurunziza’s wife was pregnant with their first daughter. Mkurunziza learned a lot from the campaign, which he joined as a facilitator, leading group meetings.
 
“We normally meet once a week," he said. “We go to clinics and also in the community, inviting the expectant fathers to be part of this group and take responsibility in their family.”
 
Part of this responsibility, he says, is helping wives with home chores.
 
“We give them homework, to go home and do something special, which they had never done before; washing or cleaning the house, or cleaning the dishes," he said. "Last week, one of my team members came with his wife, who is currently about to give birth. The wife was very happy.”
 
Men Care Campaign co-coordinator Vidar Vetterfalk from Sweden had a similar experience. The Vetterfalks adopted two children; a boy and a girl from South Africa, where they currently live. He says the group teaches men how to share the responsibility in child caregiving.
 
“I attended a father’s group while we were waiting for our first child,” he said. “Me and my wife, we did that, every second night we took care of the child so at least one of us had slept in the morning.”
 
Spreading the word

Fathers' groups now exist in many parts of South Africa and neighboring countries. It’s also present in other areas, including South America, Asia and Europe.

“We know that 80 percent of the world’s men will be fathers at some point in their lives,” said Gary Barker, Washington office director of Promundo, a global non-profit organization that co-sponsors the campaign, along with a number of women’s rights organizations, some governments and UN agencies.  
 
To get the best results, according to Barker, men should be involved in prenatal care.

“We’re trying to get them inside the clinic, get the health workers to see men as allies in this process, because research also shows if we engage men from that moment, they feel like, ‘Wait, the world expects me to be involved in my child’s life for the long term even if they are not with their partners later on,'” he said.
 
The father’s group is just one aspect of the campaign. For greater outreach, local campaign partners take the message to the media using films, public service announcements and posters.
 
“Men who report a closer relationship with their children, who get involved in daily care, report that they’ve got better mental health," Barker said. "They are less likely to be involved in delinquency or crime. They are less likely to abuse alcohol. We have data from Sweden that they actually live longer. Sons who see their fathers do this are more likely to grow up and themselves respect women’s rights and believe in gender equality. And they're also less likely to use violence against their partners.”

Advocating for change
 
Policy advocacy is another aspect of the campaign, says co-coordinator Jane Kato-Wallace, who is currently in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“We encourage local partners to take on issues such as maternity leave, for example, or friendly work place policies for men that encourage bigger, larger structural changes both in private and public sector,” she said.

In each society, the campaign takes a different approach, tailoring its message to each culture.
 
“For example, in Indonesia," she said, "it’s a culture that’s very much influenced by religion, 95 percent Muslims, conservative. What our partners are trying to do at this point is really try to engage the religious leaders within these communities that can serve as allies in getting men and women and children much more involved in the campaign and try to create more equitable societies.”
 
In many places, she says, fathers seem to be eager. In Sri Lanka, for example, a local Christian group started a pilot program to encourage fathers to spend more time with their kids, being more involved with their health care and education.

“Men became so interested in that they ended up bringing their other friends to get information, to talk about fatherhood," Kato-Wallace said. "It’s turning into a kind of national movement to a certain extent.”

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 14, 2013 9:58 PM
This is such great news -----we are evolving on this planet!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs