Baseline Findings from an RCT of a Gender-Transformative Program to Engage Men as Equitable and Involved Fathers in Maternal and Newborn Health in Rwanda

Session: Gender Equity and Transformation for Improving Maternal Newborn Health

Presenter: Ruti Levtov, Promundo-US
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Background: Promundo-US and the Rwanda Men’s Resource Center are conducting a randomized controlled trial of a gender-transformative program that engages new and expectant fathers in group education to promote their greater involvement in maternal and newborn health. Research shows that supportive male partners are associated with improved maternal health service utilization and better maternal health outcomes. Our presentation will highlight practical experiences of implementing fathers groups with more than 2,000 men in Rwanda and baseline data from 1,195 men. The fathers groups form part of the MenCare+ program, a four-country initiative to engage men in sexual and reproductive health and rights and maternal and newborn health.

Methodology: This program utilizes gender-transformative group education on maternal, newborn and child health, adapted from Promundo’s Program P to promote men’s equitable and non-violent participation their children’s and their partners’ lives. Eligible men were randomized into control or treatment groups. The treatment group participated in 15 weekly group sessions to talk about their roles as fathers, to learn about maternal and newborn health, and to reflect on men’s role in pregnancy, antenatal care, child birth and beyond. Small group discussion and activities led by a facilitator created a safe space for men to discuss, learn and rehearse more equitable and non-violent attitudes and behaviors.

Results and conclusions: Engaging men in challenging inequitable gender attitudes and behaviors that hinder their participation in maternal and newborn health can successfully promote equitable and involved fatherhood. Our presentation will describe the program and the RCT, and will provide initial baseline findings around men’s attitudes about and participation in antenatal care, delivery, and caregiving. The presentation will highlight lessons learned from the program and the evaluation and contribute to the evidence on effective programming to promote men’s equitable involvement in maternal and newborn health.