First State of SA’s Fathers Report highlights the importance of father involvement

Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) announce the launch of the inaugural State of South Africa’s Fathers Report on 12 July 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. The report coincides with the important moment in history when key amendments to South Africa’s labour law will allow for better parental leave for fathers in the Labour Laws Amendment Bill.

The report highlights the importance of father involvement irrespective of marital or residence status. Moving away from the deficit model of absent fatherhood, the report focuses on the involvement of non-resident biological and social fathers in parenting and caregiving.

This inaugural edition provides explanations on the benefits to children, mothers and fathers of men’s involvement in the first thousand days of a child’s life, and recommends key intervention points for policymakers to improve fathers’ involvement in childcare.

The report documents that:

  • Most children in South Africa are cared for by women as their primary caregivers. These women are usually their biological mothers or maternal grandmothers.
  • 36% of children in South Africa live in the same household as their biological father.
  • 35% of children in South Africa live in the same household with another man who is not their biological father.
  • Biological father non-residency does not necessarily equate to fathers being uninvolved. When non-resident fathers are involved, it is usually financially by paying for school fees and groceries.
  • When fathers are the primary recipient of the Child Support Grant, they use it for the same child care expenses that mothers do.
  • Despite high levels of father non-residency, reported violence and neglect by men, the role of caring fathers in the lives of children and families is very important and undisputed.

The report is produced by Sonke and the HSRC, as a continuation of several years of work both organisations have done on increasing support for men’s contribution to gender equal and non-violent parenting.

The report is affiliated with the MenCare Global Fatherhood campaign, and complements the State of the World’s Fathers reports produced by MenCare.

UNICEF SA has been a key partner in the South African implementation of the MenCare Campaign, through the partnership with the National Department of Social Development.

The report, which has been produced with the kind support of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development and DG Murray Trust, will be used to inform the next phase of this work, to ensure that the campaign is responsive to the evidence about fatherhood contained in the report.

The report can be viewed here:

For further comment, please contact report editors:

  • Wessel van den Berg, Child Rights and Positive Parenting Unit Manager, Sonke Gender Justice, 082 686 7425
  • Tawanda Makusha, Senior Research Specialist, Human Sciences Research Council,, 084 949 7933

To set up interviews with authors, please contact:

  • Karen Robertson, Communications and Strategic Information Unit Manager, Sonke Gender Justice,, 076 944 9873

Authors available:

  • Professor Kopano Ratele: an overview of fatherhood in South Africa. Fatherhood, violence, co-residence
  • Professor Mzikazi Nduna: an overview of fatherhood in South Africa. Young Fathers, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights
  • Dr Motlale Taulela: non-resident fathers in South Africa, BoMalome/Maternal Uncles