Social norms in Southern Ethiopia obstruct involvement of men in maternal healthcare


A study of men attending antenatal clinics with their wives, which took place in Southern Ethiopia – the Sidama Zone, with a population of 3.2 million in 2017 – has found extremely little social acceptance for men being involved in pregnancy care and health.

Women interviewed challenged why men should be present, claiming it would be unnecessary and embarrassing. Likewisemen questioned the value of it. Health workers displayed little understanding of why fathers might be present and some were negative towards the idea. Many respondents prefer support from traditional birth attendant; fears and doubts were expressed about going to a health clinic. The current national policy in Ethiopia has been to increase skilled birth attendance from 18% to 60% over the period 2015-2020.

The research included five focus groups for women, five for men, 12 in-depth interviews with parents and 10 interviews with leading figures in local health.

The researchers propose three measures to raise awareness and understanding:

• Education for health professionals
• Training for traditional birth attendants
• Awareness raising using mass media.


Teklesilasie W & Deressa W (2020), Barriers to husbands’ involvement in maternal healthcare in Sidama zone, Southern Ethiopia: a qualitative study, BMC Pregnancy and Healthcare 20

Header photo: DFID. Creative Commons.