Through our ‘Women and their Children’s Health’ (WATCH) project, we seek to promote male involvement in maternal and neonatal child health, dismantling gender discriminatory roles in communities. As a result, many men are very active in supporting their wives during pregnancy and after the birth.
In most rural communities in Ghana, some socio-cultural practices discourage male involvement in maternal, neonatal and child health.
Men are brought up with the mindset that such issues are primarily the responsibilities of women. Gender roles are so rigid that most men do not support their female partners with household chores or seeking antenatal care for them. Any man who supports his female partner in carrying out such traditionally tagged female roles stands the risk of being ridiculed by his peers.
Stephen, 42, is from the Aketebuor Community in the Upper Manya Krobo District of the Eastern region, where gender stereotyping is prevalent.
Stephen was able to support his brother’s wife through her pregnancy until her safe delivery when his brother was away in a different region.
He acknowledges the fact that like most men in the community, he did not involve himself in supporting his own wife to seek antenatal and neonatal care when she was pregnant with their 3 children.
He said: “Today I am proud to say that I have played a dual role in saving the lives of my sister-in-law and her new born baby.”
Stephen accompanied his brother’s wife to the health facility for antenatal care and took a loan to finance her blood transfusion when she was diagnosed of anaemia. He further imparted the knowledge he received, under the WATCH project, on danger signs of pregnancy to her.
Due to the various lessons learnt from the gender champions under the WATCH project, the attitudes of most men towards supporting their pregnant wives and newborns have drastically changed. The entire community now believes that men too have a major role to play in ensuring that women deliver safely.