Date: 19-11-2020

ISSA Joins Forces with CES/University of Coimbra and Promundo Portugal in Engaging Men in Nurturing Care

A world where male caregivers engage in positive, nurturing and gender-equitable parenting that supports the development of young children under three years of age – this is a vision that ISSA, CES/University of Coimbra and Promundo Portugal share.

This common vision has brought together two partners who are joining forces under the Engaging Men in Nurturing Care Initiative, funded by OAK Foundation. Currently, CES, University of Coimbra runs the multi-year and multi-country European Commission-funded project PARENT, where there is the possibility to include and boost an ECD component.

After developing and piloting the interventions from the PARENT program, mostly targeting health and ECD sectors, as well as families, ISSA and CES/Promundo Portugal will take them to scale in other cities in the country to produce evidence. This will allow to scale the methodology up in other European countries. his preparatory phase will support partners to map the existing situation in terms of involved fatherhood and responsible co-parenting. The ultimate goal of this phase is to lay the foundations for a multi-year “Engaging Men and Promoting Positive Gender Norms in Early Childhood” Initiative.

This Initiative aspires to contribute in the long run to tackling social norms, home and workplace realities, as well as policies that have been proven to act as barriers to increased male engagement. Overall, the long-term objective will infuse early childhood development programs and services with a gender transformative lens working along three levels:

  1. Positive normative changes for adults and children by:
  • Redistributing unpaid care work equally between men and women
  • Reframing caregiving as responsive and nurturing from all caregivers (including media discourse)
  • Promoting positive masculinities throughout the life cycle (including combating stereotypes, gender socialization of boys, increase of male workforce in care services)

  1. Government uptake/institutionalization of gender-transformative parenting approaches and paid, equal, mandatory and non-transferable parental leave
  • Integration of content into pre-service and in-service training of those working with young children
  • Dedicated government funding for training and delivery of such training
  • Policy change (e.g. parental leave, subsidized child-care services etc.)
  • Gender transformative ECD services and policies offered and accessible to any parent who wants them
  • Continuing to impact the European Commission for spill-over to other countries and development of EU recommendations and funding
  • Prevent all governmental measures that in response to the COVID 19 pandemic may keep parents away from delivery rooms, early childhood medical and nursing consultations and nurseries and childcare centers
  1. Positive changes in practices at the following levels
  • Parenting
  • The way practitioners are working with families


CES/UC and Promundo bring expertise on masculinities, gender transformative approaches, fatherhood and caregiving and gender justice.

ISSA brings expertise on early childhood development (ECD) and integrated approaches across sectors related to young children: education, health and social protection. The partnership will result in knowledge translation across two domains (masculinities and ECD).

Through this alignment, they will develop adaptive solutions which aim to bring changes in beliefs, values, practices and policies to promote more gender transformative early childhood development policies and practices in Europe.

Photo by Carlos Barradas