Sonke’s MenCare campaign advocates for men’s involvement in unpaid care work and promotes gender equitable and non-violent fatherhood. Parental leave for fathers creates a valuable opportunity for fathers to do unpaid care work and to bond with their children. Child development research is clear on the fact that a child bonds with the adults that provide for their basic survival needs, in other words, the adults that care for them.
When men get more involved in child-care work, children benefit by receiving more care, and mothers benefit by carrying less of the burden of care and having more opportunities for paid work. More than half of the children growing up in South Africa do so without a father present in the home.
Research evidence from countries that offer paternity leave supports the intuitive idea that an emotional connection during infanthood would lead to long-term involvement in care, and that fathers would then take more responsibility for their children’s development.