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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid