Most SA fathers shown to be present for their children in recent survey
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Cape Town - A recent report on fathers and fatherhood found most children in South Africa live with men, and the number of men who live in extended family households that include children increased during the Covid-19 pandemic from 48% to 61%.
The second State of South Africa’s Fathers (Sosaf 2021) report, one of the largest and specially-dedicated surveys on fathers and fatherhood in South Africa by Sonke Gender Justice, was launched on Thursday.
SOSAF 2021 is produced by a group of authors, including academics from different universities, practitioners from various organisations, postgraduate students, and young people writing about their own fathers, led by Wessel van den Berg of Sonke Gender Justice, Tawanda Makusha of the Human Sciences Research Council, and Kopano Ratele of Stellenbosch University.
Planned for publication every three years, the report can be used in the development of policy and legislation for families, labour market regulations, educational curricula, and other training materials, and acts as a bulwark against uninformed and false narratives about fathers and fatherhood, said Sonke Gender Justice in a statement.
Sonke Gender Justice, Unicef SA, with the Department of Social Development and other partners have been working together to strengthen fathers and other male caregivers’ involvement in the care and protection of children in South Africa.
With 1 003 men from across the province who have biological children or act in the capacity of fathers for children, surveyed, the Sosaf 2021 report is intended to support men’s contribution to gender equal and non-violent parenting.
Some of the findings include that one in five non-resident fathers had contact with their children at least twice a week, with 77% agreeing that men are as good at care-giving as women. Some unemployed or precariously employed men avoid contacting their children and families when they are not able to give financial support.
Gay men who choose to be fathers are not only perceived as a threat to stereotypical notions of fatherhood – their pathways to parenthood are deemed a transgression of the nuclear family, reproduction, and gender-based expectations of parenting roles.
It was also found that the use of money as a form of violence by fathers to manipulate, coerce and abuse mothers and children, as well as for the value of unpaid care work to be included in maintenance calculations, should be explored.
“If we understand men and care better, we can disrupt the automatic association of women with care work, and thereby relieve women from the hard work of caring for children,” said Sonke Gender Justice report editor Wessel van den Berg.
One lead author, UCT Department of Sociology Associate Professor Elena Moore, said: “Moreover, the findings of the survey showed that the majority of social fathers surveyed in the study were involved in daily activities with a child, activities such as doing homework, providing financial support, playing, talking and reading books.”