Program P: A Manual for Engaging Men in Fatherhood, Caregiving, and Maternal and Child Health

The Program P Manual is a resource developed as part of the global MenCare campaign that identifies best practices on engaging men in maternal and child health, caregiving, and preventing violence against women and children, through the lens of gender equality. While there is growing recognition of the role that men play in the care of children, the Manual highlights that many still hold to traditional views that say women are primarily responsible for caregiving.  The benefits of male caregiving have been shown to be extensive.  Children that have supportive and affectionate paternal role models are likely to have more successful futures, are more likely to question traditional gender roles, and have more positive socializations. Though the main focus of Program P is through the public health sector, the manual also provides tools and resources for organizations that want to work more generally with men as caregivers. It was designed for use by health workers, social activists, nonprofit organizations (NGOs), educators and other individuals and institutions that aim to promote men’s involvement as caregivers as one of multiple strategies to promote maternal and child health, family well-being and gender equality. The Manual defines fatherhood as including all men who take on caregiving activities and domestic responsibilities regardless of whether they are biological or non-biological fathers.

The Manual is divided into three sections distinct, but interconnected, each dedicated to a different level of the theory of change proposed by this Program.

Section One entitled, Fatherhood in the Health Sector: A Guide for Health Professionals on Engaging Men, is designed more specifically for health professionals such as doctors, nurses and midwives. It focuses on the interaction between professional and father from prenatal to postnatal stages and how to encourage caregiving till age 4. 

Section Two entitled, Engaged Fatherhood: Group Education for Fathers and their Partners, provides the content, methods and guidelines necessary to facilitate group sessions with fathers who accompany their partner to prenatal (antenatal) care visits. The group education activities are designed to increase men’s confidence in their caregiving skills; critically question issues around masculinity, violence and fatherhood; and promote communication between couples and their children. Workshops around caregiving, for example, will ask men to articulate their perceptions of what they believe male roles are in parenting. It provides recommendations for group sizes, how to address which gender should serve as facilitator, and whether to combine the genders during the group sessions.  In most cases, it does not recommend any one model, suggesting instead taking local concerns into account when planning out sessions.   It does recommend including women whenever possible however it also illustrates the challenges by stating that some men and women feel it more difficult to engage sensitive topics in the presence of the other, thus inhibiting the workshops.  The manual then provides a week-by-week breakdown of recommended topics with objectives, homework, and activities.  These include (but are not limited to) caregiving and the division of caregiving labor, the needs of children, and others more specific to men’s attitudes and perceptions around pregnancy or fatherhood.

Section Three of the Program P Manual entitled Mobilizing Your Community, is aimed at activists who wish to create change within their communities on the topic of fatherhood. This section provides tools to create a campaign, build alliances and expand participation in the pursuit of involved fatherhood and caregiving.

To access each section of the Manual, please click on the titles.