Guiding Principles

What does MenCare stand for? Read our guiding principles to find out who we are and what we believe in:

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.

MenCare holds gender equality and the wellbeing of women and girls, as well as men and boys, as core principles. As such, it distinguishes itself from so-called “father’s rights” perspectives that implicitly form a backlash against hard-won gains by women and against gains to achieve gender equality in our parenting relations.

MenCare promotes men’s involvement in caregiving for gender equality and the betterment of the lives of men, women, and children. The transformation of household relations, the equal contribution of men to the daily work of raising children, and the promotion and celebration of nurturing behavior by men are critical, four times over: They are critical for the realization of equality between women and men. They are fundamental for meeting the physical and emotional needs of children. They are at the core of rescuing men from destructive, limiting, and self-destructive definitions and practices of manhood. Finally, they are essential for transforming our societies from ones based on domination, conquest, and greed, to societies where caregiving and mutual cooperation are paramount.

MenCare member organizations can differ widely in where we are from and how we work, but we all believe, agree on, and abide by the following guiding principles:

1. MenCare believes that gender-equal parenting holds benefits for men and men’s wellbeing.

Many of the emotional problems men face start from the distance of men from daily caregiving and the virtual celebration of manhood as a rejection of “soft” roles. A vital building block to healthier and happier relationships is that men become better caregivers. It can give new purpose and meaning to men’s lives and free men of many of the destructive practices that we currently associate with manhood.

2. MenCare promotes women’s rights.

MenCare engages men and boys in effective ways to reduce gender inequalities and to promote the health and wellbeing of women and girls, including ending all forms of gender-based violence. MenCare knows that equality between women and men requires that men take on their fair share of the costs, time, and care work required in daily life. Nothing less allows for the full and equal participation of women in all areas of society: education, politics, production, culture, and religion. As such, MenCare seeks partnerships with women’s rights and feminist groups, as their work is key to the long-term success of the ideals of the campaign.

3. MenCare promotes children’s rights.

Children have the right to be parented, and they benefit when more men are directly involved in caregiving. MenCare emphasizes the rights and wellbeing of children. In all aspects of programming and interventions that involve children, there should be a child safety protocol that is adhered to, and an insistence on ethical and meaningful child participation in all aspects of program development, implementation, and evaluation.

4. MenCare promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

MenCare promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women, men, youth, and children through education and access to comprehensive SRHR information and services and through ensuring an enabling policy environment. Comprehensive SRHR here includes the areas of family planning; STIs and HIV/AIDS testing and/or treatment; safe abortion; sexuality matters; and maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH).

5. MenCare believes that transforming fatherhood will reduce gender-based violence.

MenCare works to end the intergenerational transmission of violence by promoting a culture of care, human dignity, and respect. It believes that the daily practice of caregiving will both require and produce an increase in empathy among men and, in turn, that increased empathy will work against men’s use of interpersonal violence.

6. MenCare seeks the transformation of parenting practices to end violence against children.

MenCare speaks out against the myriad forms of violence against children (e.g. sexual violence, harmful practices, harmful work, physical and humiliating punishment, child trafficking, and children without appropriate care). It promotes alternative forms of caregiving to prevent violence against children, including the eradication of corporal punishment and the promotion of positive discipline approaches.

7. MenCare supports non-biological parents and recognizes diversity in parenting.

MenCare promotes gender-equal parenting by all people, regardless of whether there is a biological relationship between parent and child, or partner relationship between parents. Separated and biological parents can still be parents even if they are not partners.

8. MenCare upholds the right of all people to care for children, including LGBT and other often-marginalized groups.

Regardless of their sexual orientation or identity, race, or class, all people should have the same rights, including the right to adopt. MenCare promotes diversity among parents, while recognizing that there are challenges relating to different contexts, and that for many countries, homosexuality is still criminalized.

9. MenCare promotes fathers’ presence during pregnancy and delivery.

MenCare encourages fathers or men in caregiving roles to take an active and present role in ante- and post-natal care, and to be present during delivery according to the wishes of the mother. MenCare also encourages mothers or other family members, health care providers, and policymakers to make this possible.

10. MenCare advocates for paid parental leave for both parents.

MenCare advocates for a legal minimum period of parental leave. Leave should also extend beyond infancy of the child. This applies to non-biological parents as well. The aim is gender-equal parenting, a 50/50 shared responsibility. Included within this, MenCare is also committed to advocating governments to shift investments from institutional to family-based care. However, MenCare acknowledges economic differences between countries, which affect this goal and the ways of achieving it.