An evaluation of the Real Fathers Initiative in Uganda
This study (an RCT) evaluated the scale up of the Responsible, Engaged and Loving (REAL) Fathers Initiative in Acholi and Karamoja Sub Regions in Northern Uganda. The intervention aimed to support young fathers to build positive partnerships and parenting practices and to reduce the incidence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and violence against children (VAC).
The evaluation results show that, compared to the control group, in the intervention group: (i) a significantly lower proportion of men reported perpetration of IPV at endline and one year after intervention; (ii) significant reductions in physical child punishment by participating men at endline and long-term follow-up; and (iii) positive impacts on parent-child interaction, positive parenting practices, attitudes rejecting IPV and VAC and men’s confidence in using non-violent discipline over time.
Implications for Research Policy and Practice
- REAL Fathers is a good example of a single intervention that can successfully reduce both VAC and VAW. Its curriculum could be adapted to different contexts.
- The significant effects of REAL Fathers on couple’s communication are promising, as it suggests a strong association between positive couple’s communication and the reduction of both IPV and VAC.
- The programme showed limited effects on men’s views on traditional gender roles at endline. This highlights the challenges in addressing gender norms in the family context, particularly in a short-term intervention. Future programmes could further engage wives and key individuals in the family or community for a longer programme period. This might lead to more significant and sustained changes in attitudes and behaviour related to gender roles.
- The programme requires testing in other contexts beyond Uganda. It would be useful to look at how the intervention could add value to existing initiatives (e.g. other parenting programmes) with low participation from fathers.