Engaging Men in the Elimination of Child Marriage
The State of the World’s Fathers report (www.stateoftheworldsfathers.org) is rooted firmly in a feminist analysis of care and the belief that unpaid care work must be valued equally with paid work and shared equally between men and women. Fatherhood marks a critical transition in a man’s life when he can either embrace a loving, caring, nurturing role – more fully embodying gender equality in practice – or demonstrate restrictive notions of what it means to be a man – for example, as a financial provider and protector, but no more.
Father-child relationships, in all communities and at all stages of a child’s life, have profound and wide-ranging impacts on children that last a lifetime, whether these relationships are positive, negative or lacking. Men’s participation as fathers and caregivers also matters tremendously in women’s lives, and also positively affects the lives of men themselves. It is against this backdrop that the MenCare Global Fatherhood Campaign, initiated by Promundo and Sonke Gender Justice, has a mission to promote men’s involvement as equitable, non- violent fathers and caregivers in order to achieve family well-being, gender equality and better health for mothers, fathers and children.
The aim is for men to be allies in supporting women’s social and economic equality, in part by taking on more responsibility for childcare and domestic work. It was with this motivation that Sonke Gender Justice entered into a partnership with Save the Children International
in East Africa (Regional and Multi-Country Programme Unit), to promote the MenCare
Global Fatherhood Campaign in East and Southern Africa. The specific area of focus for this partnership is child protection, underpinned by the following themes:
- Working with fathers to end child marriage;
- Improving unpaid caregiving by fathers; and
- Engaging fathers to end violence against children in the home and in all spaces, includingcorporal punishment.
This manual therefore responds to the first thematic area of ending child marriage by working with families, specifically men and boys.The manual seeks to address the root causes of gender inequality (and hence child, early and forced marriage) targeting men and boys. Also, to target others with power and influence in the household and community such as mothers-in-law – to be aware not only of the negative impact of gender inequality, but to open their eyes to the role they (we all) play in maintaining the status quo. (Jacky Repila, Senior Gender Officer at Girls Not Brides, recorded in a stakeholder workshop about the manual)