Men Can Help Improve Maternal and Child Health in Ghana
Men in 9 districts of Ghana are being engaged through the Technology for Maternal and Child Health (T4MCH) Project’s gender mainstreaming strategy, the Father-to-Father Group. The strategy is contributing to the attainment of the project’s goal of reducing maternal and child mortalities in 33 health facilities in the Northern, Upper West and Volta regions of the country.
The socio-cultural context within which the T4MCH project is being implemented and the power dynamics that influence decision making in the project areas have necessitated the adoption of a gender mainstreaming strategy. Men largely influence women’s ability to make decisions which also affects their ability to seek quality and timely healthcare. In order to curb maternal and infant mortality, it is important to reorient the mind-set and attitudes of men towards equity in gender roles and responsibilities.
Through the T4MCH project, Father-to-Father groups have been formed in 58 communities by trained health staff, providing a platform for men to discuss positive masculinity among themselves. Trained health staff who are referred to as Group Facilitation Leaders, facilitate sessions using the Fathers’ Journey manual – designed by the project to guide the groups’ sessions. Through carefully structured gender exercises and the Fathers’ Journey Manual, men in their communities are coming to terms with the existence of gender inequality between men and women in their homes and communities and have found it necessary to set goals accordingly to help bridge this gap.
There is an increasing number of men in the project communities who are taking positive steps to ensure pregnant women and new mothers have access to quality health care from the health facility by being role models and sensitizing other men. The Father-to-Father group members are also developing gender roles and responsibilities for their households that involve women in making decisions for the family.
The promotion of positive masculinity among men plays an important role in mainstreaming gender in the family and society, thereby ensuring equity and equality in decision making, especially toward the health of women and their babies. This will go a long way to ensure Ghana achieves the SDG 3 “to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030”.