MenCare is a global fatherhood campaign to promote men’s involvement as equitable, nonviolent fathers and caregivers. Led by the nonprofit organization Promundo and supported by the OAK Foundation MenCare is active in more than 35 countries on five continents. Men’s involvement in care work promotes family well-being, gender equality, and better health for mothers, fathers, and children. männer.ch/masculinities.ch is now bringing the work of MenCare to Switzerland. MenCare Switzerland is a national-scope program that is currently in its initial phase (2015-2017). Beginning in 2018, MenCare Switzerland will run two five-year programs that will have broad visibility and impact. Implementation has already begun with the project MAKI (More Men in Child Care).
Why It Matters
Research shows that men’s active involvement in fatherhood has positive effects on the cognitive, emotional, and social development of infants and children; strengthens family relations; promotes economic opportunities for mothers; and contributes to fathers’ health. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child also protects the rights of children to enjoy regular contact to mother and father on a daily basis. However, in Swiss families, this right remains relegated to the status of a mere wish, at least during the workweek.
Current Situation in Switzerland
MenCare Switzerland envisions a society in which it is commonplace for men to care, and assume responsibility, for children, relationships, and themselves; in short, a society, in which men’s work as caregivers is viewed as a major contributing factor to the realization of equitable gender relations and social justice.
MenCare Switzerland is designed to be a long-term, program that uses evidence-based methods to achieve outcomes nationwide over the course of at least three programmatic stages. The first phase (2015-2017) forms the basis for the subsequent phases that will take place between 2018-2022 and 2023-2027. The following concrete outputs and outcomes are already in the works:
- The work for the first program component, “Fundamentals”, is carried by SIMG. Between 2015 and 2017, SIMG will develop the scientific basis for the entire program. This includes the collection and publication of data to enable the first-ever comprehensive assessment of the nature and scope of men’s contributions to carework in Switzerland. The assessment will also evaluate the political structures that shape the daily lives of Swiss men. A concrete, broadly usable result of this research will be an online map showing organizations and projects that support men and fathers to take on caregiving responsibilities. Our research parterns are the Institute for Integration and Participation of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Norwestern Switzerland; the Swiss School of Public Health IUMSP at the University of Lausanne; and the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS) at the University of Lausanne.
- For the second program component, “Public Affairs”, männer.ch/masculinities.ch will build a public-private partnership with wide-ranging support to guide the development of key messages and strategies to be disseminated among the public via a national campign beginning in 2018. The public-private partnership will base its work on the results of research conducted by SIMG. During the initial program phase (2015-2017), the Swiss Father’s Day (first Sunday in June, designated in 2007) will anchor our public relations efforts.
- The third project component, “Advocacy“, comprises männer.ch/masculinities.ch’s efforts to persuade key stakeholders to consider the potential of men’s contribution to care work for solving sociopolitical challenges. We will advocate for the creation of a political framework that supports fathers to care for their children in their everyday lives. For this purpose, we will track political developments concerning gender equality, family, healthcare, and violence prevention and contribute to the dialogue in the media on these topics.
- For the fourth program component, “Institutions and Businesses“, SIMG will develop and test different approaches to providing consultation and support for fathers concerning their responsibilities and wishes as caregivers. This work will be evidence-based (cf. “Fundamentals“ above) and occur in collaboration with expert organizations and businesses.
- For the fifth program component, “Intimate Social Environments“, SIMG will take the lead in supporting men who are already engaged in caregiving work or seek to increase their engagement in this area of life. Concrete products SIMG will make available will take the shape of online services such as a “father’s portal“ connecting men to peer support groups on the topic of fatherhood.
The project MAKI (More Men in Child Care) is already well underway.
Management of Program Activities
männer.ch/masculinities.ch is responsible for the implementation of the program as a whole as well as components 2 and 3. SIMG is leading the activities for components 1,4, and 5. The Program Director of MenCare Switzerland is Markus Theunert.
The national program MenCare Switzerland and all associated projects are made possible by financial support from the OAK Foundation, the Schweizerischen Gemeinnützigen Gesellschaft, the Jacobs Foundation, the Mercator Foundation Switzerland, the Stiftung Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz, the cantons of Zurich, Obwalden, Schaffhausen, and Basel City, as well as the Federal Office for Gender Equality.