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Fathers rock!

Sue McCabe
CEO, National Council of Women New Zealand

The role of the Dad is often underrated because all too often our societal stereotype is the Mum as primary caregiver. Our society is still hungover from the tradition that Dad earns the money and Mum keeps the home fires burning.

This is outdated thinking. The lines are blurring as women seek greater choice over their destinies and more equality – the right to earn the same pay, enter the same professions without encountering sexism, and compete fairly for leadership roles.

The recently released State of the World’s Fathers report highlights how society hasn’t sufficiently adjusted to progress towards equality, warning we’ve got some gender issues to sort.

Released by Men Care and supported by the UN, the report shows while women make up 40 per cent of the global workforce, they’re doing 2-10 times more caregiving and domestic duties than men.

It also outlines the positive side of the changing gender picture, to motivate us to find new balance in a more equal world.

Its executive summary contains the benefits of active fatherhood for children which include higher cognitive development and fewer mental health issues. It says men who share household duties raise daughters who choose higher paying jobs and that more equality in caregiving contributes to less family violence.

Men today are spending more time with their kids than previous generations – often on top of long hours in demanding jobs. Things aren’t just out of balance for women, men face increased pressure as they adapt to changing gender roles.

So how does New Zealand keep moving towards gender equality in all facets of life, for the social and economic benefit of men, women and children?

We need to be able to talk about this topic constructively and recognise that no one size fits all. We need to respect full-time fathers as well as mothers undertaking influential family and community roles, as well as those in the work force.

We need to have more conversations with each other to work this stuff out in a way that suits people’s unique partnerships and situations.

The State of the World’s Fathers report summed it up  by saying “To achieve full gender equality and maximum well-being for children, we must move beyond rigid, limiting definitions of fatherhood and motherhood and move toward what children need most to thrive.”

It shows the value of us continuing to work on how we demonstrate and role model equality to our children.

This link takes you to the full report. http://men-care.org/