By Shanoy Coombs
Back in April 2018, while a delegate at the International Social and Behaviour Communication Change (SBCC) summit, I sat engaged, involved and ever so active as presenter after presenter spoke about the varied Social and Behaviour Communication Change projects they were implementing in their countries.
You see, I was generally intrigued about the ways to better my craft as a Development Communication practitioner and specifically, I was listening out for tips I could take back to my native Jamaica to pour into my local Jamaican Mommies network. I had therefore slotted in quite a few sessions around teenage pregnancy, admittedly with women at the forefront of my mind. Yet, the more I listened, the more I discovered a growing global gap in the development space: Men and Boys.
Interestingly, it is a well known fact that men already hold disproportionate power to women and girls globally and so several efforts would have been made the world over to bring about gender equality with a rise in women empowerment interventions. As this empowerment movement grows, there have emerged new gaps in terms of how gender equality may be approached, especially when we begin to speak about men.
Having made a side note to pick up strategies on engaging women, why then did the MenCare global campaign stand out in my mind?
For starters, unlike several other Men related campaigns, interventions, initiatives etc, that sometimes tend to be polar opposites to women and girl related initiatives, MenCare focuses on engaging men towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In actuality, the MenCare campaign focuses on gender harmony. It encourages men to be more actively involved in the home and lives of their children and families.
MenCare in Jamaica
Now, having gone through rounds of engagement and information sharing over the past 5 months, I write grateful that Jamaican Mommies and the newly formed ParentGood Ja organization has secured official status as a global MenCare partner. For me this is a big deal because of the emphasis on engaging men as EQUITABLE partners and parents and this I believe is a huge part of what Jamaica needs to level out the instances of absenteeism fathers, single family, female headed households and a renewed thrust towards active and engaged dual parenting irrespective of family dynamics. Note that this thrust also zooms in on the role men already play and should in no way be seen as an attempt to overlook the role of fathers who are already involved, engaged and fully committed to parenting. If anything, MenCare initiatives aims to increase the number of men who are operating in a positive way.
I am excited too about the prospects for Jamaica as I’ve continuously maintained that several of our social ills could have better been addressed via engaged and active parenting. Thirdly, as mother to a little girl, I dream of a world where “empowerment” means support across all fronts, including shared household and parental responsibilities.
The prospects are certainly exciting! and hopefully this quick overview on MenCare will get you excited too. So What is MenCare?
- MenCare: A global fatherhood campaign promotes men’s active, equitable and non violent involvement as fathers and caregivers around the world
- MenCare is currently active in over 45 countries across 5 continents
- MenCare is an international campaign that is working towards two fundamental goals: Men doing 50 percent of the caregiving work around the world, and the universal uptake of equitable and nonviolent fatherhood practices.
- MenCare works to achieve these goals by advocating diverse policy measures in governments and workplaces; by campaigning to shift social norms and attitudes about fatherhood; and by educating men about healthy, equitable, nonviolent parenting practices.
- Through innovative programming, media campaigns, and advocacy, it is estimated that MenCare has reached approximately 44 million people around the world.
- MenCare holds gender equality and the well being of women and girls, as well as men and boys, as core principles.
While still a learning process to be more familiarized with the global MenCare principles, the body of support is welcoming and I certainly look forward to the continued stakeholder relations and being a part of the MenCare family and making our own positive mark here on local shores.
For more information on MenCare: A global fatherhood campaign, visit http://men-care.org.
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Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy on twittervia @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page