Positive masculinity: the fathers of Chishozi set an example
By taking on an equal share of caregiving and housework responsibilities, families make a positive change for their children’s health and wellbeing.
In Chishozi, a village in the province of South Kivu, domestic work is shared equally between Antoine and Wivine. While Antoine now cooks, does the laundry and collects water, that wasn’t always the case. “I was an irresponsible father. I didn’t worry about the children because I thought that was their mother’s job”, he admits.
When Ézéchiel, one of the family’s eight children, was diagnosed as malnourished a few months ago, UNICEF-supported community workers talked to Antoine about men’s role in caring for malnourished children, on the equal division of domestic labour and shared decision-making.
Antoine participated in 8 weeks of training and awareness raising sessions on positive masculinity. As a father, he understood the importance of helping Wivine with housework and educating their children. “The children are both of our responsibility and we should take care of them together”, he explains. “There shouldn’t be certain jobs for women and others for men.”
“The programme had a huge impact on my husband. He no longer sees himself as my superior, but as my friend and my partner”, explains Wivine, who now has a say in decisions affecting their family. Together, she and Antoine set the family budget and decide what food they will buy and what meals they will prepare.
With the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), 240 people were encouraged to change their behaviour for the better and share care and domestic responsibilities equally. Following the training, the men and women continue to meet up to discuss their everyday problems and find solutions together for the health and wellbeing of their children.