Work to improve women’s health
• the men of the community, who all expect to eat first. The woman’s husband
may be more likely to change if other men do too. You could have a meeting
of men and women and discuss why pregnant women must eat more to be
healthy. If one man in the community agrees that women must have as much
or more healthy food as men, this opens the door for others.
• children, who will soon grow up to be mothers and fathers. Each time a man
eats first and most, and a woman eats last and least, their children see and
learn that a man’s hunger is more important than a woman’s. By talking to
groups of schoolchildren or by changing the way your own family eats, the
next generation may grow up to value men and women more equally.
Who could you involve to make sure there is enough food for everyone?
Men can care for women’s health
Whenever you can, encourage men to be partners in improving women’s
health. Husbands, fathers, sons, community leaders, spiritual leaders,
bosses, and other men all play a role in how healthy women will be. If
the men of the community feel responsible for the health of women, the
whole community will benefit. Midwives can help men be involved.
Build on the roles and skills that men already have. For example, in
many communities men are seen as protectors. Help
men learn how to protect the health of women.
Encourage men to share the responsibilities of
pregnancy and parenting. Men can care for children in
the same ways that women do: comforting, bathing,
feeding, teaching, and playing with them.
Invite women and men to community meetings,
and encourage women to speak up.
Work with men who are sympathetic to women’s needs. They can talk
to other men who listen more closely to a man than to a woman.
Give practical suggestions. Men who care very much about the health
of women in their lives may not know where to start. For example:
• Tell men how they can get tested and treated for sexually
transmitted infections. If only a woman is treated, she will quickly
be infected again by her partner.
• Explain to a man that his pregnant wife needs help with her
• During labor, show a man how and where to rub a woman’s back
to relieve her pain.
A Book for Midwives (2010)