The MenCare+ program, developed from the tenets of the MenCare campaign, is a three-year, four-country collaboration between Equimundo and Rutgers, created to engage men ages 15-35 as partners in maternal, newborn, and child health and in sexual and reproductive health and rights. The program is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and is being implemented by Equimundo, Rutgers, and partner organizations in Brazil, Indonesia, Rwanda, and South Africa.
The “plus” in MenCare+ represents the targeted effort to bring men into the health care system as active and positive participants in their own health, as well as in the health of their partners and children. Working within the public health systems across the four countries of implementation, MenCare+ country partners conduct group education sessions with youth, couples, and fathers on sexual and reproductive health and rights; maternal, newborn, and child health; gender equality; and caregiving.
Fathers’ group facilitators can utilize concrete strategies and activities from MenCare’s Program P (named for pai and padre, the words for father in Portuguese and Spanish) to engage men in active fatherhood from their partner’s pregnancies through their children’s early years. Country partners also organize counseling and therapy for men who have used violence, as well as workshops with health sector professionals on the importance of engaging men.
To ensure the sustainability of MenCare+, partners are actively targeting public health systems to incorporate the initiative and its tenets and programming into their services moving forward. MenCare+ partners also build alliances and conduct targeted advocacy with other organizations and governments to promote policies that encourage the role of men in fatherhood and caregiving, along with their full participation in maternal, newborn, and child health and in sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Rutgers, Equimundo, and their partners are currently developing and testing evidence-based approaches to enhance the program’s activities and outcomes, including a randomized controlled trial conducted to evaluate the program in Rwanda.