Men-engage approach challenges nutrition insensitive gender norms

By Uwera Caroline, Nutrition Officer, KRC Uganda, Kyaka II Refugee Settlement.

Research evidence suggests that higher levels of gender inequality are associated with higher levels of under-nutrition, both acute and chronic. Traditionally, women are socialized to treat men as superiors and when it comes to serving food, men get the lion’s share of the nutritious foods. The same is true for household division of labor where women shoulder the triple-burden of women of reproductive work, productive work and community managing work.

In Kaborogota community in Kyaka II Refugee Settlement, majority of the men do not agree with sharing responsibility of work at home terming it as “women’s roles”.  Through men-engage approach, KRC Uganda and Save the Children have integrated men involvement in the Care Group Model, as led-fathers. Twelve lead fathers in Byabakora zone were trained on health and nutrition best practices through the care group approach. As a result, led-fathers have cascaded the learnt knowledge to their fellow neighbor men. They have reported reaching out to 180 neighbor men on ideal health and nutrition concepts. This has been done through neighbor circle care group meetings.

Sadi Mayulu is one of the gender-equality converts who lives with his wife, Janine Kavira in Kaborogota, Kyaka refuge Settlement. Sadi has set an example in their community about promotion of gender equality. He has lived together with his wife for 15 years and the couple is blessed with 6 children one of them being an MCHN (Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition) beneficiary.

“At home we happily share responsibilities, if my wife is cooking supper, I bathe the children. She taught me how to cook and sometimes I support her with cooking.” says Sadi.

Sadi set up a kitchen garden in the backyard himself. According to him, garden work is a collective responsibility and when it comes to finances, Sadi sits with his wife for budget allocation. “Working harmoniously as husband and wife has resulted into a happy family and promoted good nutrition.” Say Sadi.

What he does at home, he also promotes with the neighbors. Sadi was invited to Byabakora Health Outpost to inspire other men especially in overcoming the gender biases.