Our brilliant project officers in Meru have been leading male partner sessions as part of our Team Mum initiative, offering practical information and guidance for male partners so they can better support mums-to-be.
Now affectionately dubbed ‘Team Dad’ by the community, we’ve seen huge growth in the number of male partners join us for sessions this year: 757 male partners have joined us for sessions covering practical advice and information such as financial support to cover birth costs, recognising danger signs in pregnant partners and how to support with care for both mum and baby. One of the best bits about the sessions is that they provide a co-supportive space for men to engage in dialogue around pregnancy and birth, sharing and learning together.
Why male partner sessions matter in Meru
Male partner sessions are an important part of Team Mum. Cherio, our Programme Manager, explains why:
The community in Meru is heavily patriarchal with very traditional roles for men and women. Men in this community have the presumption that the process of pregnancy, childbirth and childcare is a woman's affair. What we have learnt from different sessions we have held with men here is that there is a lot of misinformation and lack of knowledge amongst many of them that contributes to this attitude. We therefore run these sessions to equip men within the community with the necessary knowledge to support their partners through pregnancy, childbirth and in childcare, especially during the first days of life.
We're really proud of the response to the sessions - both the increase in referrals and engagement of men in the community, which reflects an overall positive response to the content and value of our male partner sessions. The team in Meru have been exceptional in overcoming some of the challenges - from resistance to Covid-19 - and encouraging men to attend initial community dialogue sessions, which helped boost attendence in the specific male partner sessions themselves. Given the success of this year, we're excited to see how the sessions develop as interest and demand grows.
One of the participants in our Team Mum male partner sessions, Ken, shared more on the positive impact they are having on his community.
When Jacob, the Child.org project officer, arrived in Meru Team Dad sessions started! Both the Team Mum and Team Dad groups have been of great benefit to us in Machungulu. Before we had problems with roads, so when women wanted to give birth it was a problem, even getting boda-bodas or vehicles to take women to clinics.
Through the Team Dad sessions, we found out about the support Team Mum offers, including information about the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), an initiative that helps when mothers go to give birth by catering for all her costs. We were also told of the importance of hospital deliveries and were given up-to-date information on the nearest hospitals and clinics for delivery.
We also learned the importance of sharing and communicating with your partner: you should enjoy and want to understand your partner during pregnancy!
In my opinion, it is good to have planned times to meet as men. When we meet up, we teach each other, we engage in dialogue about what we think is okay and what happens in our communities. With the support of Team Dad, we can then see what areas we need teaching about, learn and be empowered.
If you have any further questions about our Pregnant Women’s Group project, please get in touch with Clare at firstname.lastname@example.org.