Father groups in Burkina Faso – towards changed behaviors and a reconstruction of masculinities?

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Förvaltningshögskolan

Abstract: Introduction: The importance of the involvement of men when it comes to increasing quality of life for women and children as well as for men themselves are evident, and has been shown repeatedly in academic research. Women globally are the ones responsible for children and household. In addition, research has shown that poor rural societies, have a greater division between men and women and the challenges to reach equality is tough. Burkina Faso in West-Africa is one of the poorest countries in the world and most people live by agriculture. The vision of Yennenga Progress, an organization active in the country, is a community where men and boys, take responsibility for changing gender roles, renounce violence and take an active interest in their partners and children's health. Therefore, Yennenga Progress have initiated father groups in the village Nakamtenga, where men have been given the opportunity to discuss and reflect upon their role as men, fathers and spouses.Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to is to provide an empirically based exploration of the behavioral outcomes of Yennenga Progress´s initiative with father groups in Nakamtenga, Burkina Faso. The study provides valuable insights of fatherhood and masculinities and the reconstruction of masculinities in an African context, as well as contributes to the overall experience of adapting the concept of father groups into diverse contexts. Method: In order to collect the precise richness of data to understand the outcomes and im-plications of the initiative with father groups in Nakamtenga, a qualitative method was adopt-ed. The empirical findings were obtained through seven open thematic interviews as well as participant observations, obtained during a ten week stay in Nakamtenga. Conclusion: This study, like previous research, shows that an initiative like Yennenga Pro-gress´, giving men the opportunity to discuss parenting, communication and participation in the lives of their families, can contribute to a reconstruction of masculinities and changed behavior and attitudes. The traditional gender roles in Burkina Faso are strong and the divi-sion between men and the rest of the family is clear, resulting in children not knowing their fathers and fathers spending little time at home with their families. Women are in charge of household chores and the caregiving of children, whilst it is men who makes all the decisions concerning the family. As a result of a father group, men now chose to come home to spend time with their families and communicate with family members before making joint decisions. Changes in behavior and men doing duties seen as typically female has resulted in reactions from other people. Instead of hiding their behaviors, as seen in previous research, these men have chosen to initiate a dialogue and even in some cases act provocatively, resulting in a ripple effect and discussions regarding the division of labor between men and women and why there is nothing odd in a man washing his wife’s underwear. This all has resulted in women, men and children being happier and has increased their overall quality of their lives.

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