MenCare+ Rwanda carries out impact evaluation of fathers’ groups

A man in a fatherhood training class holds a baby doll in his arms.Group education for young and expecting fathers is one of the cornerstones of the MenCare+ program in Rwanda. Since 2014, more than 1,000 men and their partners have participated in 15 weekly sessions to promote men’s greater involvement in caregiving and in maternal, newborn, and child health. Fathers’ group participants, their partners, and community members report many positive outcomes, including men’s increased participation in antenatal care and delivery, and in sharing care work within the home.

In February 2015, Equimundo and the Rwanda Men’s Resource Center (RWAMREC) launched a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to evaluate the impact of fathers’ group education. In an RCT, eligible individuals are randomly allocated to receive or not receive the intervention. Data is collected from both participants and non-participants over time in order to compare changes in the both populations, which allows for more rigorous study of an intervention’s impact.

In February and March 2015, baseline data was collected from nearly 1,200 fathers, half of whom will participate in fathers’ groups in the coming months. Endline data collection is planned for December 2015. The RCT will assess the impact of fathers’ group education on a range of outcomes, including: men’s participation in reproductive health, family planning, and maternal, newborn, and child health; gender attitudes and household dynamics; violence; risk behaviors; and men’s health and wellbeing. Results from the RCT will be available in 2016.

The MenCare+ program, developed from the tenets of the MenCare Campaign, is a three-year, four-country collaboration between Equimundo and Rutgers WPF, created to engage men ages 15-35 as partners in maternal and child health and in sexual and reproductive health and rights. The program is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and is being implemented by Equimundo, Rutgers WPF, and partner organizations in Brazil, Indonesia, Rwanda, and South Africa.