Results in action: See what happens when men stand up for women’s health

Imagine starting your day, tending to your children and feeding the family. Add household chores, fetching water and a demanding day of hands-on agricultural labour. Now imagine doing it all while pregnant.

It’s a daily grind too common for women living in rural communities across Zimbabwe and Mali. The grueling and often dangerous workload is risking the health of women and their babies, triggering complications before, during and after childbirth.

When men uphold rigid gender roles and stereotypes, expectant women will continue to suffer. Male participation is vital in keeping families strong and women healthy.

Dads stepping up to the plate

A father listens to the heartbeat of his baby at a prenatal checkup

When men are more engaged in their wives’ pregnancy, everyone benefits.

We’re working with men and local community leaders to change mindsets, taking a hands-on approach to address strongly rooted cultural traditions that put expectant mothers at risk. It’s no easy feat, but when you’ve got the support of the people whose behaviours you’re trying to influence, great things can happen.

We’ve trained dozens of men and key leaders on the importance of gender equality and the benefits of women in their community receiving proper and timely maternal health care throughout their pregnancy and labour. Equipped with knowledge and the facts, men welcomed these changes and were prepared to make a difference at home and for the health and well-being of their wives and children.

“Male engagement sessions have enlightened a lot of men,” says Elijah, a project leader in Zimbabwe. “They help their wives with household chores, accompany them to prenatal checkups, and include them in household decision-making.”

A man speaking in front of a group of men.

Elijah, a project leader from Zimbabwe, hosts a meeting to teach other men about the importance of maternal health.

Shattering stereotypes for good

Today these men are working as champions for women and children by facilitating peer-to-peer and group discussions with other men in their communities. These men make it their mission to help improve the health of families and help other men become better parents and partners.

Change is happening everywhere. Healthcare workers have been trained to engage men in activities associated with their partner’s pregnancy. Fathers are keenly joining their wives at prenatal checkups to listen to their baby’s heartbeat, and to see how well baby and mom are developing.

Harare, a maternal health ambassador in his community believes that, “Men are breaking the rigid systems that have haunted maternal, newborn and child health for centuries.” He explains that “men have embraced shared responsibilities and now appreciate that gender roles are not set in stone.”

Boosting the health and confidence of women

A couple shares a laugh with a health worker.

Working together results in improved healthcare and better relationships at home.

A change in attitude means that men are recognizing the need for their expectant partners to receive regular prenatal and postnatal care. And it’s giving women the confidence they need to seek medical help when problems arise, or to ask their spouses for help with daily chores. With a supportive spouse comes healthy relationships and parenting. Everyone benefits!

“It’s important to empower our wives by ensuring their rights have been realized, including their right to access maternal health services,” says another male participant from Zimbabwe.

Thanks to your help, we’re seeing healthier results during pregnancy, stronger family bonds and happier children.

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Plan International is a global movement for change, mobilizing millions of people around the world to support social justice for children in developing countries.


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