Understanding the effects of programs to increase men’s engagement in maternal, newborn and child health

Plan Canada commissioned a study of male engagement in maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH), based on two Plan-supported MNCH programs implemented across three countries that included male engagement components.

Including men in services relevant to MNCH can contribute to improvements in health behaviours and utilisation of health services. Additionally, engaging men in caregiving and other health promoting activities can have a powerful impact on MNCH results, men’s health and wellbeing, and gender equality outcomes. Yet there has been little comparative evidence surrounding male engagement in MNCH in diverse settings, which can limit the acceptability and sustainability of interventions designed to increase male engagement. The impact of male engagement activities on broader gender norms, gender roles, and gender equality has also been poorly understood.

The study aimed to improve understanding of activities designed to increase male engagement in MNCH in three countries (Bangladesh, Tanzania and Zimbabwe), in order to advance an understanding of strategies and factors likely to increase the acceptability, sustainability, and potential impact on MNCH of male engagement activities in a range of contexts.


The study aimed to:

  1. Explore the influence of context on activities designed to increase male engagement in MNCH;
  2. Explore perceptions around effective male engagement strategies;
  3. Explore benefits and harms related to activities designed to increase male engagement in MNCH;
  4. Explore barriers and supporting factors for the implementation and sustainability of activities designed to increase male engagement in MNCH; and
  5. Develop an understanding of the relationship between male engagement and MNCH outcomes in selected project sites.


Qualitative methods (focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and key informant interviews) were used to explore in depth the attitudes and expectations around male engagement in MNCH of male and female target beneficiaries, as well as project implementers, health workers, policymakers, and community leaders who were directly involved with the projects.


May 2014 - May 2015


This study contributed to the growing body of global knowledge on male involvement in MNCH through original in-depth research into how women and men across three countries experienced MNCH projects with male involvement components.


  • International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
  • Ifakara Health Institute (Tanzania)
  • Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Research-Zimbabwe


Plan International Canada (client) Canadian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (donor)

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Liz Comrie-Thomson

Women's and Children's Health Specialist