Program P is named after padre and pai, the words for father in Spanish and Portuguese. It provides a direct and targeted response to the need for concrete strategies to engage men in active fatherhood from prenatal care through delivery, childbirth, and their children’s early years.
Authored by MenCare partners Red de Masculinidad por la Igualdad de Género (REDMAS), Equimundo, and Fundación CulturaSalud/EME, Program P has three components: offering information and tools for health care providers, developing group activities for fathers and couples, and providing guidance for designing community campaigns. By targeting men, primarily through health sector, Program P engages fathers and their partners at a critical moment – usually during their partner’s pregnancies – when they are open to adopting new caregiving behaviors.
More specifically, the Program P manual contains:
- Introduction: Background research on the latest data on why engaging men as caregivers is an essential part of maternal health and gender equality.
- Section 1: A guide for health professionals on how to engage men in the prenatal consultation space and primary health clinics.
- Section 2: A series of interactive modules for gender-transformative group education with men, and in some instances their female partners.
- Section 3: A step-by-step guide to create and launch a MenCare community campaign.
Working with men as fathers is a key entry point to discussing sensitive subjects around traditional gender norms, and the way in which these norms negatively impact communities. Through discussion guides, role plays, and hands-on activities (such as learning how to change diapers), men and their partners are encouraged to discuss and challenge traditional masculine and inequitable gender norms and to practice more positive social behaviors in their families and communities.
With support from the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Program P has been adapted in Brazil, Indonesia, Rwanda, and South Africa in both rural and urban settings as part of the MenCare+ program. MenCare+, a collaboration between Equimundo and Rutgers, is a multi-component program working at individual, community, and policy levels to engage men and women as partners in maternal, newborn, and child health; in sexual and reproductive health and rights; and in violence prevention.
Results from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Program P in Rwanda, released in 2018, reveal powerful impacts of this targeted, gender-transformative programming on health and violence outcomes. Results show that almost two years after participating in the program, men are nearly half as likely to use violence against their female partners and spend almost one hour more per day doing household chores.
Qualitative results from Program P’s implementation have also shown positive changes in the lives of men and their families. Young fathers in Nicaragua, one of the locations where Program P was tested, reported improved relationships with their children and partners, as well as greater participation in household work and childcare. In addition, in a partnership between World Education and Equimundo, men in Sri Lanka learned to manage difficult emotions and reported a decrease in substance abuse among both themselves and their partners. Furthermore, many of the men and staff who were involved have continued to spread the program’s messages throughout their communities and have recruited other men to participate.
Program P has also been adapted for Lebanese and Syrian fathers and couples in Beirut, with a special focus on early childhood development (ECD). In total, Program P has been adapted in over 15 countries.
Download the full Program P manual in English and its adaptations in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian here.