African Fatherhood Posters

Date: January 1, 1970
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The images encourage men’s engagement and involvement in their partner’s pregnancy. With women speaking out about needing support, men are taking a big step to be good partners. These images show a clear picture of how and what men can do to play a role in their unborn child’s life.

These posters  may be used to:
1.  teach men the importance of being supportive to their partners. 
2.  provide positive images of men’s involvement in pregnancy and childbirth; and;
3. show that fathers matter. Not just a little, or in some circumstances, but a lot, for every child.
Trainer’s notes
The pictures and the articles show clear gender awareness. A pregnant woman is happy and looks healthy with her partner. In most cases reports are being issued that fathers have abandoned their children even before birth, making it difficult for the single moms, who now much raise their children with little support. While it is broadly accepted that the media does not always reflect society, it does provide us with a repertoire of roles and images which we encounter and with which we engage. The media play a vital role in the circulation and mediation of ideas, attitudes and actions and their significance is commented on frequently. It is noteworthy that such commentary in Africa identifies that men are infrequently depicted in parental roles.
According to South Africa’s Central Statistics Services, about 42% of children live only with their mother, in comparison to 1% of children who live only with their father.  Only 20% of fathers who were not married to the child’s mother at the time of their birth were in contact with their children by the time their children reached the age of 11 years. The images encourage fathers to be actively engaged in their child’s life from the start – even illustrating that men are allowed in the maternity ward during and after childbirth. Traditionally, men have been left out of childbirth, and may be reluctant to attend their children’s births. These images encourage men to change their attitudes.  
The images also challenge notions of manhood and masculinity, contrasting the idea of manhood as linked to virility with the image of a man cuddling his sleeping child. The words, ‘it takes a man to be a Dad’ therefore take on an alternate meaning – that ‘real men’ don’t just make babies, they cherish, support and care for them as well.  The fact that these pictures are published on a website, and not in mainstream media, means that a lot still needs to be done in terms of getting positive messages into the public eye. Workshops need to be organized for both men and women around a new father’s involvement and the impact active father’s have on a child’s development.
Discussion Questions
1.  Should men take part in the pregnancy of their partners? How can they participate?
2. Is there enough antenatal education for men and women during pregnancy? Are people accessing it?
3.  Can men and women share duties in households?
4.  Why do you think there are so few positive role models around fatherhood?
5.  What impact do you think active fathers have on their children?
6.  What does African culture say about this?
Training Exercises
1.  Interview men and women around and get their views and opinions. Do they share duties with their partners? How would they want their partners to support them and their unborn babies? For men who are already sharing the duties and are supportive, what can they say to other men out there?
2.  Find out about antenatal education in your community. How is it structured? Is it mostly based on the medical or physiological aspects of becoming a parent? Does it engage men in discussions of fatherhood and the roles and responsibilities of both parents?
3.  Interview a few active fathers and their partners. Write a commentary about fatherhood and the importance of being a supportive partner and involved father.
Links to other training resources

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