Parenting Social Issues

My Response to the State of the World’s Fathers Report

state of world's fathers
Download report here

I doubt I did anything today that made a lasting impression on my children. Today was simply another day of me being a dad. No, not just a dad, but a daddy. A dad that not only cares about the future and wellbeing of his children, but is an active participant in the joys and trials of raising them.

After attending the State of the World’s Fathers at the UN by the MenCare Global Fatherhood campaign, I’ve realized, as Doug French, cofounder of Dad 2 Summit would say, “there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Why is there still a lot of work to do? Because too many children in the world are neglected by their fathers. According to the report on the State of the World’s Fathers, “80% of men become fathers.” But here are some very disappointing results coming from the same study:

On Physical Violence

  • 3/4 of children between two and 14 years of age in low and middle income countries experience some form of violent discipline in the home.
  • One in three women experiences violence at the hands of a male partner in her lifetime.
  • Studies in high-income countries suggest that anywhere between 45 and 70 percent of children whose mothers are experiencing violence themselves experience physical abuse.
  • Data from 8 countries found that men who, as children, witnessed their mother beaten by a male partner were approximately two and half times more likely to use violence against a female partner as adults.
  • A study in Norway found that rates of violence against children – by mothers and fathers – were lower in households where men’s and women’s caregiving were more equal.

On Caregiving in the Home

  • By sharing the caregiving and domestic work, men support women’s participation in the workforce and women’s equality overall.
  • Daughters with fathers who share domestic chores equally are more likely to aspire to less traditional and potentially higher-paying jobs.
  • Women now make up 40% of the global formal workforce, yet they also continue to perform two to 10 times more caregiving and domestic work than men do.

Birth Planning

  • Women’s contraception use represents approximately three-quarters of total contraception use worldwide. A proportion that has changed little over the past 20 years.
  • More needs to be done to engage men in contraception use and decision-making in ways that support women’s reproductive choices and to ensure that all pregnancies are wanted pregnancies.
  • Studies around the world find that fathers tend to be more engaged in the lives of children whom they intended to have, with lasting benefits to those children.

 Paternity Leave

  • In the United Kingdom, fathers who took leave after birth were 19 percent more likely to participate in feedings were 19 percent more likely to participate in feedings and to get up with the baby at night eight to twelve months later, as compared with fathers who did not take leave.
  • A study from Sweden showed that every month that fathers took paternity leave increased the mother’s income by 6.7%, as measured for years later, which was more than she lost by taking parental leave herself.

The report is filled with such statistics and many more that need to be changed.

As I sat in my chair in the UN building and listened to the raw reality about how fathers do generally, I was completely humbled. I am a part of a large group of dad bloggers that discuss how being a dad has changed the way we view ourselves and the world. We discuss how much we love our children and our partners in great detail. Sometimes I look at what we are doing as the norm and forget about the actual “State of Fatherhood.” Overall, we dads aren’t doing such a great job.

While those stats that I just listed might suggest otherwise, I’m hopeful that times are changing for men. I see men at playgrounds with their children, writing about fatherhood on blogs, and commercials showcasing dads in a positive light. The report that I have been talking about agrees that “The state of the world’s fathers is changing.” Unfortunately, certain things are changing at a much slower pace. The report adds, “men’s involvement in caregiving has too often been missing from public policies, from systematic data collection and research, and from efforts to promote women’s empowerment.”

Men, husbands, fathers; we must do more. We must make our voices heard so equality can be accomplished much sooner than the 80 years Gary Barker foresaw during the discussion at the UN building.

I’m sick of seeing news of women abroad being abducted and raped. I’m disgusted that in 2015 marriages in some parts of the world are still pushed upon young girls. And I am completely dumbfounded that still, in this day in our American age, that women still make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. And I’m tired that we still throw around words like “rape culture” with a just cause.

And the problem has a pretty easy fix… Fathers around the world need to step up. I am not suggesting that all men become stay-at-home dads, because that’s crazy. Not all parents, whether moms or dads, are meant to be stay-at-home parents. But all moms and dads can and should be active within the home. That means equal caregiving. By participating in equal caregiving, women not only will be happier at home, but will earn more. That has a direct impact on the national economy. And men taking more responsibility for contraception will bring them closer to their planned babies, in turn making it more likely they will behave more responsibly to their children and be active in their care.

As for men abusing women, I really simply want to say, grow up. No man should ever physically harm a woman or a child and a man who does is pathetic. Yes, I am saying here that all men who harm women and children are pathetic and nowhere near a “real man” (whatever that is).

I am thankful to be in a position of caregiving for my sons and daughters. For my sons, I can teach them to accept those that are different from them, to lift others up that need assistance, to not be bullies, and to remember their mother and sisters and demand equal pay for all when they enter the workforce. And for my daughters, they are growing up in a home where they can expect to be treated equally and not be forced in whatever society’s pigeonhole has for them. And all of my kids will grow up understanding the importance of equal care in the home.

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for a report on the state of the world’s fathers. And someday, I hope that world materializes. And as I travel the world and see fathers lovingly interact with their kids, I’m hopeful that it will happen soon. And as I tuck my kids in bed, prepare their food, and help them throughout the day, I know that I am part of that change.

*All statistics listed are from the report. 

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