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Engaging men in fatherhood and caregiving activities during the pandemic via whatsapp

To engage men in unpaid care at home for early childhood development, gender equality, and poverty reduction

Photo of Miguel Fontes
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Written by

Where are you located (country)?

República Federativa do Brasil

Where are you located (city or town)?

Brasília, DF

You are submitting as:

  • An organization

If part of an organization or group, what is the name?

Instituto PROMUNDO

What is your organization or group’s website? (If applicable)

How does your proposed solution support emerging middle-class families in urban areas in the Global South to adapt and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Program P online works as tool to promote engagement of men in early childhood development unpaid caregiving at home during the pandemic. By having fathers and male caregiving full participation, women have more time to study and look for income generation options. The economic empowerment of women promotes gender equality at home and significant benefits to children´s wellbeing. In addition, male involvement promotes seeking better health services for kids and participation in home schooling education during the pandemic.

What stage of development is your Idea in?

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

What tier are you applying to?

  • LatAm Mid- to Advanced-Stage Prize Tier: Open to submissions focused on the Latam region, and particularly in Peru, that are prototyping, piloting, or scaling their idea. If not based in Peru, must be willing to partner with a local player in Peru to implement their project.

Do you intend to implement your idea in Peru?

  • Not sure

In what countries do you expect to implement your idea initially (in the first 2 years)?

The idea would be to scale up the intervention to other regions of Brazil, including the Amazon region. Based on the expansion of the program to other vulnerable sites, Instituto PROMUNDO plans to translate the approach into Spanish for an expansion to other LATAM countries.

Feasibility: where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve accomplished to date, what barriers to implementation might exist, and what next steps you plan to take.

The current approach is being implemented in two low income communities of Rio de Janeiro. More than 60 men has being participating in the Program P online sessions. In addition, we have promoted LIVES on Instagram and Facebook to include the participation of women and receive their support on promoting men engagement in caregiving and fatherhood. Based on the initial findings, men has reported significant involvement in unpaid care at home. These are some of the feedback we have receive from men participating in the Program P sessions: "(...) This support that you give, even from a distance, helps me feel more confident to take care of my son." "(...) My wife is even surprised at how much more careful I am with my son. But she is really enjoying it. Thank you, even during the isolation, you are so close." "(...) At the moment, the isolation period is difficult and the activities have helped me to feel closer to my children." "(...) Care with hygiene is very important. The activity that talked about ensuring hygiene habits with my children was very important. Thank you for caring for our little ones." Based on these positive responses, we are working with governmental and non-governmental organizations in Brazil the possibility of scaling up these strategies to other regions of Brazil, including the Amazon region.

Viability: what needs to be true for you to be able to implement your idea? What stakeholders, partnerships and resources might be required to implement this solution?

We need to have the support of community based organizations for the initial contacts with families and men. These organizations provide a key support for identifying families most at risks and possibilities of having men engaged in Program P activities. The governmental support is also very important, especially from social protection agency. With their support, we are able to work with government social protection staff to better address family needs and identify opportunities for the intervention.

Adaptability: how does your idea adapt to frequent changes within the context you are implementing, due to COVID-19? Consider the rapidly shifting government policies, and healthcare economic realities that might influence end users.

During the pandemic, and increasing number of family members stay at home during weekends.Therefore, this is a great opportunity to expand home activities to engage men in caregiving and unpaid care. Before the pandemic, most of PROMUNDO activities were implemented face to face. In Brazil, over 130 million people have access to whatsapp. Therefore, it has become an important tool for education and health information and participatory approaches. The Program P online was well received in the community, and it ready to get expanded.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Miguel Fontes Welcome to the challenge. Really exciting to learn about your program and to read some of the feedback you have received so far.

Could you share more on what program p entails? What are the men taken through? From the pilots, what are you looking to do moving forward?

Photo of Miguel Fontes

Tks Isaac. There are four stages in this approach: 1. Mobilization; 2. Engagement; 3. Participation; and 4. Evaluation. First, families are mobilized by community leaders on the importance of men in caregiving. Secondly, families promote the engagement of potential male caregivers to participate in Program P whatsapp and other social media parenting sessions. Thirdly, engaged men participate in whatsapp group sessions on positive parenting and caregiving during a two month cycle. Finally, an impact evaluation is carried out. From the positive responses and impact we got from the pilot, we want to scale-up the strategy to several other low-income communities.

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