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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid