“To see the work that has been done around fatherhood and the boy child has been amazing. It’s motivating me and our organisation to see [that] we’re on the right path and [that] together we can do this.”
– Ditiro Madiseng, Mentor A Boy Child
The first Fathers Matter networking event took place on Wednesday 3 March 2021 and was attended by 11 NGOs that work on father-related initiatives. Hosted by Heartlines and made possible by the Oak Foundation, the aim of these networking events is for organisations in this sector to connect and collaborate and, through that, to increase their impact.
After giving an overview of the programmes they offer and who their beneficiaries are, each of the participating NGOs shared their learnings and the challenges they have experienced over the past few years. These ranged from funding scarcity to limitations in establishing a reliable volunteer base, and broader issues such as being questioned and criticised for their decision to focus on “men’s issues”.
This focus is incorrectly perceived to be at the expense of the advancement of other potential beneficiary groups’ rights because some communities don’t appreciate that men need to be positively impacted for certain societal issues to be addressed. “It’s not about us promoting men’s rights – it’s about promoting the goodness of fatherhood,” said Erna Rheeder from SAVF Famnet.
Areas for potential future collaboration that were identified during the networking event include learning more about monitoring and evaluation, sharing lessons and programme materials, and supporting one another where organisations provide complementary services or cater to beneficiaries in different age groups.