Jun 20
June 20, 2015

Rachel Tulchin

Deputy Director, No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project

Redefining What ‘Fatherhood’ Means Worldwide


"Being a Father:" A State of the World's Fathers Film

This Father’s Day, we’re reflecting on what being a father and caregiver means in the 21st century, and how fathers can positively impact their families and communities. Earlier in the week week, Chelsea Clinton and No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project joined MenCare and HeForShe at the United Nations to help unveil the first-ever State of the World’s Fathers report. 

The report, which stems from Promundo’s 2011 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, makes the evidence-based case for why fathers matter – looking at their important role and contributions in the household, in caregiving, in preventing violence, and in ensuring the healthy development and well-being of children and families.

Chelsea kicked off the event by stating that balancing caregiving in the household “is not only morally the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do — for fathers, for families, for communities, and for countries. Why is that the smart thing to do? Well we know that engaged fathers are going to be healthier fathers. We know that positively engaged fathers now are happier fathers. We know that happier and healthier people are going to be more productive contributors to their countries’ economies. We know that when fathers are more engaged, it creates more time and space for women to be more engaged in work outside the home.”

So what is the State of the World’s Fathers? It’s improving – but there’s much work to be done. According to the report, roughly 80 percent of the world’s men and boys will become fathers in their lifetime. And yet:

·        Data finds that women continue to spend more time on household work and care for family members than men do (2-10 times more).

·        Inequalities persist despite the fact that women today make up 40 percent of the formal global workforce and 50 percent of the world’s food producers.

·        While it is steadily increasing, men’s unpaid caregiving has not kept pace with women’s participation in the labor force.

During a panel discussion with Gary Barker, International Director of Promundo, and Kate Gilmore, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the UNFPA, Chelsea also noted that only 92 countries have paid paternity leave, and for most, it’s measured in weeks not months. Yet, the report makes a strong and powerful case for why paid paternity leave sends a strong philosophical message that parents have an equal stake in nurturing and raising of the children – starting with their very first days of life and continuing with the early months up to adulthood.

Because of this report, and together with the data compiled on, we have more facts than ever to back up the importance of men’s involvement not only in caregiving, but in creating a world that is more equitable for women. This includes eliminating gender-based violence, advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, providing equal compensation and paid parental leave, supporting work done both in and outside of the home, and breaking down the socioeconomic architecture that prevents men, women, boys, and girls from reaching their full potential.

While we know the state of fatherhood is improving, we have the power to accelerate the pace of change. This Father’s Day we want to know what fatherhood means, and looks like, to you. How has a father or caregiver empowered you? Share your stories and photos with us by using the hashtag #FatherhoodMeans.

Relevant Reading: No Ceilings Full Participation Plan, which challenges governments, multilateral organizations, civil society, foundations, academics, the private sector, and even individuals — not just women and girls, but also men and boys — to close gender gaps and ensure the full participation and equality of women and girls.