Anna Galle, a Belgian midwife who has worked in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Mali and Guatemala, has led an innovative project in Mozambique. Ten men from a rural community have worked together to produce a video of their own voices on gender norms and active fatherhood, to inspire others.
This approach is in line with the approach recommended in 2014 by Dumbaugh et al.: “Men’s already-existing positive behaviours and attitudes should be built upon as entry points for supporting and increasing involvement along the entire continuum of maternal and child care.” The best way to change social norms is to inspire an alternative aspiration towards something that brings love and fulfilment.
We present here a shortened version of the full 30-minute film. It was created over two weeks. A workshop was organised with the 10 men, led by a local gender quality NGO working with men, HOPEM. The video was then recorded, with each man giving the message he felt was the most important.
Two key themes come through the video, as they do whenever men are asked to talk about their experience of active fatherhood:
- They feel like full partners in parenting (“it’s ours”), not helpers.
- They express particular joy over their own relationship with their babies and children.
The film witnesses to changing times, where there are new opportunities for men, but at the same time, challenges from the old order. One young father was thrown out of his home for insisting on being active in housework and care.
Such videos do not have to inspire entire new communities. They just have to inspire and strengthen a few men who are already changing, so that they are confident to become a beacon of change in their own locality.
Dumbaugh M, Tawiah-Agyemang C, Manu A, ten Asbroek GHA, Kirkwood B & Hill Z (2014), Perceptions of, attitudes towards and barriers to male involvement in newborn care in rural Ghana, West Africa: a qualitative analysis, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 14
Photo: Aguacheiro Design Multimédia. Youtube.