Empowering urban Tanzanian dads for adolescent health and rights

Jun 11, 2024

Written by Evelina Sanga, Gender, Human Rights and Economic Empowerment Specialist, World Vision Tanzania and Natalie Fisher Spalton, Gender Technical Specialist, World Vision Canada

Observing Father’s Day offers the opportunity to honour and reflect on the importance of men’s roles and responsibilities as fathers and partners in the well-being of families.

Yet, as traditional powerholders, men can serve as influential gender equality advocates. By working with other men and boys to speak out against discriminatory gender norms that perpetuate discrimination, violence and inequality, men serve as positive role models.  

In this vein, the AHADI project has adapted the MenCare program as part of its series of strategic approaches to promote gender equality with a focus on adolescent girls. Funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by World Vision Tanzania in partnership with World Vision Canada, AHADI is a seven-year gender transformative project that works with adolescent girls and boys to realize their sexual and reproductive health and human rights.

Engaging with fathers and other community members is key to the project’s intended impact. The MenCare approach involves men and fathers working alongside women as partners and catalysts for gender-transformative change.

Gender-transformative change includes advancing adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health, improving adolescent nutrition, especially for girls, and promoting economic empowerment for adolescents to make informed sexual and reproductive decision-making. 
A man speaks and raises his arm.

A MenCare Champion shares his thoughts during a MenCare training session in Dar es Salaam.

Gathering men in the urban settings where AHADI is being implemented can be more challenging than in rural areas, so this context requires a tailored approach. Local leaders in each ward are identified and trained in the MenCare approach as MenCare Champions.

These Champions engage with fathers and men in their neighbourhoods to help men critically reflect on cultural and gender norms. Such cultural and gender norms perpetuate the devaluation of girls and serve as obstacles to men’s participation as involved fathers to advocate for gender equality and adolescent girls’ and boys’ sexual and reproductive health rights and protection.

Public outreach occurs through a weekly television show broadcast on a local Dar es Salaam television station and is aired nationwide. MenCare topics are discussed with prominent guests, including celebrities, political and religious leaders, police officers, primary and secondary school teachers, social analysts and academics. Social media reinforces the MenCare messages of the TV show.

Through the combined process of MenCare Champions and media outreach, the AHADI project is using the MenCare approach to sensitize men on how to promote gender equality, improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health and well-being, and reduce gender-based violence.
A man and woman hang laundry.

Saidi, a father of five, helps his wife Bi Aisha fold the laundry that they washed together.

Saidi, a father of five, reflects on how the MenCare training he received has helped him become a better father. “When it comes to taking the children to school in the morning, I don't leave it solely to my wife anymore. I take the children to school myself, or in the evenings, I go pick them up,” he shared. “I didn't know how to cook initially, but now I can cook after receiving training and realizing that all tasks aren't solely for mothers; we do everything by supporting each other."

Equimundo developed the MenCare approach, which World Vision Canada adapted and uses in several projects. World Vision Canada published a MenCare manual in English and French.