Gender Equality in South Africa
An evaluation of the effectiveness of the MenCare Parenting Program in the South African context
Gender equality is one of the main health issues in the world, referring to equal opportunities for both men and women to live a healthy life. Unfortunately, this equality does not always arise naturally. Therefore gender transformative interventions are designed to change gender roles and promote gender equality. The MenCare Parenting Program is one of those programs, implemented in the South African context. The current study focused on the effectiveness of the MenCare Parenting Program in promoting gender equality by describing and understanding the way in which gender attitudes, division of caregiving and father involvement changed amongst participants with a black or coloured racial background. A sample of 119 men who participated in the program in 2014 was included. All of them filled in a questionnaire prior to the training and after participating in the training. Some of them were also selected to participate in a focus group discussion to share their experiences about the training. The effects of the program were measured using a t-test and regression analyses, taking into account participants’ racial background, age, schooling, income and composition of the household. The results showed a large effect of the intervention on gender equitable attitudes and a small effect on equal division of caregiving. The intervention did not significantly change father involvement. There were no unambiguous effects found when looking at the background factors. Participants highly valued the training, because of the safe environment it created. They felt confident to open up, share their experiences and critically reflect the ruling gender norms. This seemed to be the main strength of the design. Participants all experienced difficulties in changing gender attitudes due to the disadvantaged areas they were living in. The only difference that was found between black and coloured participants was linked to the cultural practices black participants had.