The First Global Meeting of the MenCare Gender Equitable Fatherhood Campaign was held in Cape Town from the 10th to the 12th June 2013. This meeting brought MenCare partner organizations from all over the world together to Cape Town, during the week leading up to Youth Day/ Fathers Day. Sonke Gender Justice and Promundo US as the global coordinators of the campaign, hosted colleagues and researchers from Rwanda, Brazil, India, Ukraine, Canada, Netherlands and Sweden, to name but a few.
MenCare is a global fatherhood campaign whose mission is to promote men’s involvement as equitable, non-violent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve family well-being and gender equality.
The MenCare global meeting’s purpose was to share the experiences and lessons learned from partners’ implementation of MenCare, as well as the knowledge and expertise of those who have not yet joined the campaign. The meeting also sought to finalize a Global and Regional Strategic Plan for 2013-2015, while elaborating MenCare Principles and a shared vision for moving forward. There was also an important training component focusing on building MenCare Training facilitation skills for country-specific contexts.
After almost two years, the meeting provided a unique opportunity to get together and take stock of the strides that have been made, both as a collective, as well as by the partners all over the world. Under the theme of “Getting to know each other”, participants assessed what MenCare has done thus far, what new research has been published, new resources that exist around engaging men in care-giving and sharing the work partners have done on the ground. This provided participants with valuable lessons learnt, as captured in this report.
Prior to the conference, the campaign had commissioned an external evaluation, the results of which were shared with the plenary. Partners also had the opportunity to share their own experiences with engaging fathers across the globe. From this process, the participants were able to collaborate in defining common global principles for the campaign moving forward, and examined and gave input for the draft strategic plan for 2013-2016.
The final day of the meeting was dedicated to planning for the future and policy advocacy. Participants discussed what they would like the future activities of the campaign to look like, including the strategic plan goals, as well as drafting their own country or region-specific plans. Additionally, South African government officials gave input on how fatherhood fits in with national and international priorities and goals. It is also a good example of how strong partnerships with government can aid in furthering MenCare’s goals.
All in all, the global meeting was labelled by the partners, both in their organisational as well as individual capacity, as a resounding success. It served to establish the current state of play globally, strengthen links between partners through fruitful exchange of ideas, and to consolidate a shared vision for the future.
Wessel van den Berg is the MenCare Global Coordinator at Sonke. He earned a Master’s Degree cum laude in Sustainable Development at the University of Stellenbosch. His master’s research was an exploration of community wellness in a local government context in South Africa, and utilized participatory photography and complexity theory.