Stories of Change - Involving Men in Women's Health

Horizons staff member Hannah Matthews and Indigenous community leader Eusebio Lopez Sontay speaking at the Rotary Club of Belleville during one of Horizons’ knowledge exchanges to Canada.

Horizons staff member Hannah Matthews and Indigenous community leader Eusebio Lopez Sontay speaking at the Rotary Club of Belleville during one of Horizons’ knowledge exchanges to Canada.

Eusebio López Sontay was born in Aldea Chinimabé, a village of the Momostenango municipality in Totonicapán. Through his role in the Community Health Commission, Eusebio has coordinated with staff in the Chinimabé Health Post to provide timely medical care for the village and conducted home visits where children suffering chronic malnutrition where identified and cared for.

“In my community in the past, machismo prevailed. Men wouldn’t allow their wives to be attended at a health post or clinic during their pregnancy.  Through the MNCH project, PIES provided training, first with traditional Indigenous authorities, followed by training for community health commissions and then workshops for women.  It has been interesting for my community to provide space for women to be trained as well as men. The people in my community placed a lot of importance on this information.”

Through the MNCH project men and adolescent boys are being actively involved in supporting women and children’s health.

Through the MNCH project men and adolescent boys are being actively involved in supporting women and children’s health.

“As community leaders we have a method – to continue developing our knowledge and abilities with the training and then to put this knowledge into practice through action.  I encourage men in our community to participate in the training. I say to them “Come for a talk. We will learn some new things and drink some coffee”.  Once they start hearing about the program then they become more interested.”

“I have worked with PIES for two and half years and I have seen a change in my community; machismo has diminished and women are gaining more self-esteem as they learn about health and inter-family violence and we are able to resolve cases of chronic malnutrition with training and support from the public health post and the free Micomidita that is distributed.”

Traditional Indigenous leaders receive training materials to improve women and children’s health in their communities.

Traditional Indigenous leaders receive training materials to improve women and children’s health in their communities.

“Really, this project has helped us in a very special way.  There were a lot of women and babies who died during birth. Now everyone in the community is learning about health, women’s health and how to create emergency plans to save lives.”

“I can see that in my community we are gaining knowledge but this hasn’t happened yet in all of Momostenango nor in all of Totonicapán.  We need international support to be able to educate and train all of our people.  We need to keep having these talks and training to open our minds so that everyone takes care of their health.”

A group of male Indigenous community leaders complete their year-long training workshops on gender, women’s health and “new masculinities”.

A group of male Indigenous community leaders complete their year-long training workshops on gender, women’s health and “new masculinities”.

Raul Scorza