Following three days of meetings November 19-21 in Rabat, Morocco, more than 150 partners from more than 40 countries have made a common commitment: to advance men’s caregiving and gender equality in their respective countries by taking part in the MenCare Commitment.
The third MenCare Global Meeting concluded on Thursday, November 21, with a shared commitment from 150 participants – joining in person and remotely from around the world – to encourage men to take on an equal share of the care of children, domestic work, and other unpaid care activities, in order to advance gender equality.
Over the course of the three days, discussions focused on the importance of men’s and fathers’ commitments to unpaid care and the necessary, active involvement of men and youth in the promotion of healthy masculinities and involved parenting. The meeting raised reflections around various themes such as sustainable development, committed fatherhood, the impact of migration on parenting, and non-resident fathers. It was also an opportunity to share advocacy experiences at the local level, including strategies for securing mandatory, paid paternity leave for fathers as part of a broader, leave strategy for all parents and caregivers.
“If we want to shift the way the world – and men themselves – see men’s roles as parents and caregivers, we need to take action at every level,” says Gary Barker, President and CEO, Equimundo. “By coming together with over 150 MenCare partners and experts from more than 40 countries, we were able to exchange best practices, explore rigorous evidence, and define a plan of action on how to break stereotypes and shift policies and structures to support and encourage all of us to value and invest in caregiving.”
The members of the meeting agreed on several anchor points in order to successfully complete the MenCare Commitment, which aims to ensure that 50% of unpaid work (childcare and housework) is done by men; one ask the commitment makes if for men to increase the time they spend on these activities by 50 minutes a day.
The commitment includes taking action on the following five issues:
- Equal, fully paid, non-transferable parental leave for all parents, as a supplement to maternity leave, not an alternative.
- State-supported, high-quality childcare that facilitates the full participation in economic activities for both parents and provides young children with gender equality education.
- Policies in the health sector to engage men in prenatal visits, childbirth, postnatal care, and father-specific parent training to build men’s skills, confidence, and competence and to promote shared decision-making and good communication.
- Comprehensive communications campaigns and school-based approaches to promote young men’s involvement in care work, prevent gender-based violence, teach the value of care to both boys and girls, and promote equitable, nonviolent, caring relationships.
- Regular data on time use in unpaid care work and how it is divided between women and men, girls and boys and use it to measure progress toward equality, inform policy-making and budgeting decisions.
During the meeting, participants raised the need – within the framework of children’s rights – to build an inclusive understanding of fatherhood; and to provide support, guidance, and encouragement for fathers to invest in the daily life and care given to their children from birth.
Furthermore, participants stressed the need for networks and alliances – including within the health sector – to accelerate action and provide structural and policy support as an important component of the success of the MenCare Commitment.
Focused on developing a common advocacy agenda, participants concluded that, in the face of circumstances and political contexts which are not supportive, tailored actions must be undertaken on the ground and in local communities, taking into account the realities of each environment.
“The MenCare Global Meeting was an inspiring meeting of minds, where MenCare partners from around the world could again share their experiences of promoting gender equal fatherhood. The meeting was a moment of hope, in a difficult time. The conversations at the event paid attention to the increasing populism and conservatism we see across the world, but perhaps more importantly, also paid valuable attention to the innovative solutions that our partners are implementing in their contexts. We also saw increased momentum of governments taking action towards equality, focused on the five pledges of the MenCare Commitment.” – Wessel Van den Berg, co-coordinator of MenCare Global Fatherhood Campaign
“Make Mothers Matter is encouraged by the inspiring work of the MenCare campaign to involve fathers in the life, care, and education of their children. Mothers and fathers – and all parents – should play an equal role in the nurturing care crucial for the development of their child, particularly in the early years. MMM calls for a partnership to promote the involvement of fathers in caregiving and to adapt behaviors to the sharing of responsibility between mothers and fathers, and all parents.” – Anne-Claire de Liedekerke, president of Make Mothers Matter.
Excellent news came from Northern Europe: eight ministries have committed to support the MenCare Commitment; the negotiations are under way to determine the way forward.
In Morocco, the representative of the CNDH (National Council of Human Rights) affirmed that the Council, which by vocation works on improving equality and equity, undertake, following this meeting, a new focus and lens on masculinity, as a part of their efforts.
Quartiers du Monde, a French organization that has been working in Morocco for more than 7 years, is actively involved in developing and adapting Program P: a curriculum to support active, hands-on fatherhood and gender equitable relationships. This program, which has already been successfully implemented in at least 18 countries around the world, aims to provide a direct and targeted response to the needs of concrete strategies and actions to involve men in active fatherhood around the world throughout early childhood, by getting involved in the education of children. Program P identifies best practices for engaging men in maternal, newborn, and child health and domestic work. The program has demonstrated its effectiveness in shifting attitudes and behaviors around violence against women and children, and its ability to improve gender equality.
Quartiers du Monde is inspired by the experiences and reflections shared during the MenCare meeting and will continue to for the achievement of real equality between women and men through women’s empowerment and the involvement of men in the Care work; the domestic work, the education and the child care. For this purpose, Quartiers du Monde will start the P program, a tool manual for fathers, mothers and other members of the household and health professionals to engage fathers in the co-responsibility of domestic work and in the construction of egalitarian relationships. – Carine Troussel, coordinator for Quartiers du Monde in Morocco