We started involving men in the MMH sessions.”
The Oxfam Team in Nepal
Changing gender norms in Nepal with MMH
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on already vulnerable members of society, including women, girls, people with disabilities and marginalised minority groups. With the support of Unilever and the UK government, our response in Nepal aimed to support positive hygiene and handwashing behaviours, alongside promotion of fairer gender norms to promote a gender-transformative response to the pandemic.
In most parts of Nepal, men very rarely contribute to household chores. Both men and women commonly feel that men should be the breadwinner and work outside the home, whereas women should be responsible for all domestic tasks and childcare.
In order to change this mentality, we started involving men in the MMH sessions. As well as covering important lessons on handwashing and hygiene behaviours, special focus was given to issues around gender, for example, the importance of equal distribution of domestic work.
Different methods and tools were used to sensitize and motivate men to change their behaviour. Although shifting such deeply entrenched social norms takes time and effort, we already saw some changes in just a 12-month project. Men in project areas were much more likely to take care of their children and support women with household chores like cleaning and cooking.
A father in Nepal prepares some vegetables while a mother combs her daughter's hair