First we need to understand the connection between men’s care giving, fatherhood, and violence. Global figures on violence against women are well-known but remain persistently high: approximately one in three women experiences violence at the hands of a male partner in her lifetime.
An analysis of violence in the context of fatherhood means examining the gendered power dynamics and stressful living conditions that are at the root of violence, as well as other factors that lead some men to use violence against women, and some men and some women to use violence against children.
Violence in any form is a profound violation of rights; it infringes upon women’s rights to health, safety, security, and autonomy, and upon boys’ and girls’ rights to protection, education, healthy development, and even survival. The risk factors involved in violence against women and against children are common at multiple levels, such as, poverty, legal and political dis-empowerment, inadequate prevention and response systems, community norms about gender and about violence being a private matter, relationship conflict, substance (alcohol) abuse and mental health issues.
It is quite obvious from evidence around the world that girls and boys who directly suffer violence or whom had witnessed violence directed towards their mother are more likely to repeat these patterns in their adult relationships.
Violence during pregnancy:
Specifically the first pregnancy often triggers stress for the couples, which may result in increased conflict and sometimes in men’s use of violence. At the same time, pregnancy offers an opportune moment to screen for intimate partner violence, to offer services for women experiencing violence, and to support fathers and mothers in preventing violence. Violence has substantial negative physical and mental health consequences for women, including injuries, chronic pain, and ongoing gynecological problems. Such acts of violence can also lead to mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and eating and sleep disorders. Abused women also have higher rates of unintended pregnancies and abortions, and those abused during pregnancy are more likely to experience miscarriages, stillbirths and pre-mature births.
Clearly, violence against women by male partners is too common. Working with boys and men in violence prevention from pregnancy onward, as well as improving health and justice sector responses, must be part of integrated efforts to eliminate violence.
When men and boys do an equal share of the care work, they can achieve richer, fuller, healthier, less violent lives – and women and girls can achieve their full potential in politics, in community life, and in the workplace.
Benefits of being involved: Fathers and Maternal Health:
The involvement of fathers before, during and after birth of a child has been shown to have positive effects on maternal health behavior. Greater father involvement before, during and after child, has the potential to contribute to reducing maternal mortality and to improving the experiences of women in pregnancy and during labor.
Expectant fathers’ participation can enable and support women to work less, receive the health care they need, and have adequate rest and nutrition. Men’s presence during prenatal care visits provides an opportunity to engage them in the care of their partner and child.
Expectant fathers’ can provide psychological and emotional support during pregnancy:
Pregnancy can be a stressful and challenging time for many mothers, but fathers can provide care and emotional support to improve their partners’ experiences and it has been revealed by the reports that partners value this support. In addition, a number of studies suggest that men’s involvement during pregnancy is associated with reduced likelihood of developing postpartum depression.
Engaging men in their children’s health:
There is growing evidence that engaging fathers can have important benefits for the health of the child in the crucial weeks and months after birth – when the risk of dying is highest – and as the child grows older. Fathers can encourage immunization and support infant nutrition, including early and exclusive breast-feeding. Fathers’ support also influences women’s decision to immunize their children and to seek care for childhood illnesses.
Not only mothers, but also fathers require the information necessary to support healthy decisions regarding their child’s health, including immunization, infant and young child feeding, and care for childhood illnesses.