Reported By: P. V. Swati, Officer, Gender Mainstreaming
Edited By: Communications Team
“As we strive to usher in a more sustainable future, achieve the Millennium Development Goals, shape a new development agenda and combat climate change, let us mobilize the world’s families.”
– Message by UN Secretary General Ban Ki – Moon
The International Day of Families, annually held on May 15, celebrates the significance of families. It is an occasion to reflect on the work started during 1994 and to celebrate the importance of families, people, societies and cultures around the world. It has been held every year since 1995.
However, in our wider developmental goals aimed at universal equality, we have often missed out the structurally unequal way in which families are constituted in our societies. Traditional familial norms have positioned men and women and their social roles in an innately hierarchical manner. Women are essentialized to the roles of nurturers and care-givers, compelling them to absolve their responsibility from taking on the material roles and emphasize primarily on mothering a child. Men, on the other hand, have been socialized to assume the role of “breadwinners” and hold open the umbrella of privileges thereby constraining their active involvement with the nurturing of a child.
Sociological and historical work on fathering makes it clear that fathering (at least beyond insemination) is fundamentally a social construction. Each generation moulds its cultural ideal of fathers according to its own time and conditions, and each deals with the inevitable gap between what LaRossa (1988) terms the ‘culture’ of fatherhood and the ‘conduct’ of fathers in families. In other words, this gives rise to an opportunity to explore the relatively ‘safer’ subject of the dyadic relationship between men and their children (boys and girls) as well as their roles within the larger family unit, which could be more challenging.
The Positive Fatherhood Programme, implemented by IGSSS in three districts of Uttar Pradesh, draws on the Responsible Conceptual Fatherhood Model which looks at re-designing a few of its components (to emphasize issues of gender, masculinity, identity and stereotypes): Personal Transformation, Social and Emotional Involvement, Community Connectedness, Economic Stability, Parenting Skills and Knowledge, Healthy Marriage and Co-Parenting.
The programme uses Focus Group Discussions, Role Play Exercises, Community Trainings on Gender Based Issues to stimulate the flow of information within the community on prevalent Gender Inequality and ways to mend the gap to give men their equal share in bringing up a child.