Three years of MenCare+ engage tens of thousands in Brazil

A father learns how to carry a baby in a sling, using a doll, in a MenCare+ workshop in Brazil.

MenCare+, an initiative of the global MenCare campaign, completed its third year of activities in Brazil in January 2016. MenCare partner Equimundo coordinates the initiative in Brazil, where it is known as +Pai, along with Instituto Papai, Instituto Noos, Rio de Janeiro’s Secretariat of Health, and the Brazilian Ministry of Health.

A three-year, four-country collaboration between Rutgers and Equimundo, with support from the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs, MenCare+ has sought to engage men aged 15 to 35 as partners in maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) and in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Programming, campaigns, and advocacy efforts have worked together with the aim of promoting SRHR, improving MNCH, preventing gender-based violence, and encouraging gender equality more broadly.

After three years of MenCare+ campaigns and advocacy in Brazil, the initiative has reached over 75,000 people. Brazilian campaigns include “Você é meu Pai” (“You Are My Father,” in English), which is the Brazilian adaptation of the global MenCare campaign; “Dá licença, eu sou pai” (“Excuse me, I’m a father,” in English), which advocates for the expansion of paid paternity leave in Brazil; and “Pai não é visita” (“Dad is not a visitor,” in English), which encourages fathers to be present in the delivery room at the birth of their children.

MenCare+ has trained over 1,200 individuals in Brazil – including social workers, teachers, youth peer educators, and community leaders – on topics related to parenting, caregiving, gender-based violence prevention, and sexual and reproductive rights. The initiative has also trained 511 health professionals to facilitate fathers’ groups and parents’ groups at approximately 100 health units.

Another MenCare+ initiative, the Shameless Campaign, which works to raise awareness among adolescents in Brazilian public schools about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, has reached 845 young people through awareness-raising workshops and about 10,000 through school- and community-based campaigns. Over 100 adolescents were trained to work as peer educators for the campaign within their schools and communities.

In partnership with the Instituto Noos, MenCare+ Brazil carried out counseling groups for perpetrators of intimate partner violence, as well as educational groups for fathers on parenting and caregiving based on the activities found in Program P.

MenCare+ also advocated for policy changes to support men’s involvement in caregiving at the national level. A highlight of this advocacy was the Brazilian Chamber of Deputy’s approval in February 2015 of the expansion of paternity leave from five to 20 days for employees of companies that participate in the Empresa Cidadã program. The bill is now awaiting presidential approval before being signed into law.