My Father is no different to my Mother

 By Siyabonga Dube

A mother’s love is endless and her role in an individual’s life can be seen as of great importance, that same role can be played by male figure

As we celebrate women’s month it’s inevitable to not acknowledge the fathers who are heading up households on their own all around our country. Single parenting is not commonly seen with fathers but it is there.  According to the Men Care and Sonke Gender Justice Network in South Africa 40% of children live with their mother only. This proves a 60% chance of having balanced households within the rest of the country.

The father’s role alone might not be that impacting but in other homes it’s not by choice. The term “absent father” is looked upon and defined as a father who is not living with his children, doesn’t pay maintenance and has no communication with his children. These having multiple reasons according to the Centre of Social Development in Africa (CSDA) like the separation of parents and the father’s migration to work which at the industrialization of the country and the migrant labour system enforced apartheid rule left thousands of families torn apart.

For a child to be brought up by his father is beneficiary in terms of mainly behaviour and future relationships. Studies show that girls who grow up with their fathers are more likely to have a high self-esteem, lower levels of risky sexual behaviour and very minimal difficulties in building strong and secure relationships in the future.

Boys on the other hand are more likely to achieve more educationally, have more self-confidence and behaviour control.

A father’s role in a family is of provision and with elements of emotional support and caring may just cover a void of not actually having a mother around. In some homes both parents are there but some do feel easier talking to their fathers then their mothers. 

The father figure doesn’t have to be the biological one but could be a step farther, uncle or a close family friend as according to UNICEF South Africa there is an estimated 3.7 million orphans in the country.

Society has rewritten the understanding of Fatherhood in comparison to motherhood. There seems to be little faith in fathers being a positive pillar in a family then a mother, if looking at the report on absent fathers in South Africa compiled by the Centre of Social Development in Africa but all roles are in dependence to the individual and their contribution. The bond might be different, but love is a formless phenomenon and can be given by anyone who choses so.

The Sisonke Justice Gender Network & Men Care have done campaigns and competitions in the past enhancing the roles of fathers in our country working to make people see that as we are constantly developing  as a society and country, we are of equal presence.

The “My Dad Can” campaign was breaking the simple stereotype like “My dad can fix cars” to “My dad can cook”.

As we have commemorative days and months for Mothers and Fathers, acknowledgement of these individuals should be done on a daily basis and the belief in fathers being worthy of the role of leadings homes should be enhanced more. Happy Women’s Month