Fathers matter. Father–child relationships, in all communities and at all stages of a child’s life, have profound and wide-ranging impacts on children that last a lifetime, whether these relationships are positive, negative, or lacking. Men’s participation as fathers and as caregivers also matters tremendously for women’s lives. And, it positively affects the lives of men themselves.
Approximately 80 percent of men will become biological fathers at some point in their lives, and virtually all men have some connection to children – as relatives, as teachers, as coaches, or simply as community members. Whether they are biological fathers, stepfathers, adoptive or foster fathers, or legal guardians; whether they are brothers, uncles, or grandfathers; whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships; and whether they live with their children or not, men’s participation in the daily care of others has a lasting influence on the lives of children, women, and men, and an enduring impact on the world around them.
Massive changes in the workplace and in households are bringing changes to men’s participation as caregivers – that is, the state of the world’s fathers is changing. Yet, men’s involvement in caregiving has too often been missing from public policies, from systematic data collection and research, and from efforts to promote women’s empowerment.
This first ever State of the World’s Fathers report (download) brings together key international research findings along with program and policy examples related to men’s participation in caregiving; in sexual and reproductive health and rights; in maternal, newborn, and child health; in violence and violence prevention; and in child development.
State of the World’s Fathers has the potential to put some of the most exciting and farthest-reaching changes happening in the lives of men and women around the world into the public eye and onto the public agenda. The move toward more involved fatherhood and equitable caregiving must be supported as part of a wider agenda to challenge the structures and ideologies that restrict us all from developing as full human beings in a more just and equal society.