Some men tend to mock me for doing tasks that my wife is expected to do, like harvesting the cassava. But I know we are different… we need to support our wives.’
In Malawi’s rural communities, women traditionally get little help with farming or household chores, even while pregnant. And preparing for the birth of a child isn’t seen as man’s work. It took a meeting with the Men as Partners group to convince Brian Kagoma to do things differently. His wife, Margaret Nyirenda, is expecting their child in a few months’ time.
“So far we have been to the clinic three times in three months and we are given preferential treatment [when we go together]”, Margaret explained. “We are given iron tablets and if I forget to take them, my husband reminds me.” The clinic also sends appointment reminders and health tips by text – another way of increasing access to reliable mother-and-child health information.
The World Health Organization sees male involvement in maternal health as essential to making pregnancy safer. In Malawi, with its traditional divide between men’s and women’s roles, this behaviour change is crucial. Christian Aid and FOCUS developed a project that recognised the barriers of self-consciousness and social pressure. It trained men to support their wives during pregnancy, and encouraged joint decision making on maternal issues
According to the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey, 1 in 50 women aged 15-49 will die from pregnancy-related causes. However, the same survey shows the link between clinic attendance and reduced health risks for mothers and their babies by monitoring pregnancies and screening for complications. Antenatal clinics are also an opportunity to explain the importance of delivery at a health facility, with skilled medical support and in hygienic conditions.
What does the supporting data tell us?
Below you can explore how the results changed from the Start to the End of the project, based upon the survey questions. Filter by community using highlighted areas of the map to view impact at a local level and by gender to see how answers from men differed from those of women.
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Read more about our maternal and neonatal health programme in Malawi.