Our approach with men is to demystify the myths and beliefs about women and demonstrate that partnership with women can bring greater success in the home, at the community and within the state. We work with and train existing men’s groups to become Male Action Groups so that their level of knowledge and understanding of, and actions towards different thematic issues commensurate with that of their spouses or partners who have benefited, and continue to do so, from our program. Their training revolves around the following principles: supportive partnerships between man and women; respect for women’s views and ideas; creating space for dialogue between partners; making informed decisions together and sharing responsibilities particularly about sexuality, pregnancy, delivery and child rearing; and prevention of gender-based violence. These principles also guide all subsequent discussions with men on family and reproductive health issues, harmful traditional practices, HIV prevention, and other development related issues.
Once trained, each group formulates activities on how to collaborate with their partners in family planning, how to support them during pregnancy and how to improve the referral system in accordance with their means as well as how to advocate with other men to advance women’s rights. Furthermore, the groups embark on blood donation activities to support women who need transfusion, especially during delivery. One of their tasks in this area is to maintain up-to-date registers with the name and blood type of every donor, which we facilitate. Two focal persons from each of the groups meet monthly to share information and best practices.