Men and Family - Men’s changing family roles in Europe
For the occasion of an
event organised by the Belgian Institute for the equality of women and men,
COFACE re-edited this publication again. The event, which was
entitled "My daddy is at work”, examined the issue of fatherhood and the
reconciliation of work and the role of parent and family life, drew together
many participants from institutions, research organisations, civil society and
the European Commission.
The publication was
the final outcome of a generic research project between 8 partners, and was
coordinated by COFACE. The project examined how men perceive their role in the
family, how can we encourage fathers to play a more active role, how can gender
equality take root within the family to ensure the equal repartition of tasks
The publication has of
course great relevance now for our 2014 European Year campaign, since we would
like to discuss the participation of women in the labour market, but not only
from the point of view of the women themselves, but highlighting the roles men
can take on from the family and care responsibilities to free up women to be
able to go to work.
We know, that after
the birth of the first child women work less, and men work more, and we also
know that only a fraction of men take their paternity leave, even when it is
available to them. There is still a lot of social stigma and misconception
linked to men’s role in the family, and these are wonderfully highlighted in
is men’s involvement in household and family duties so poor as compared to that
few hard facts work against desired attitudinal changes:
- persistent gender-unequal pay and
employment conditions (a 15% pay gap EU-wide)
- labour market segregation
resulting from a lack of any gender balance in school courses
- interest-based sectionalism of the
main economic and social actors
- workplace atmospheres and career
- work organisation and parental and
family leave policies that do not match families’ needs
- lack of essential family services
- gender stereotypes perpetuated
through the educational system, the media,…
it seems that re-characterizing the father stereotype is arguably the most
decisive factor in bringing about the attitudinal change needed to move men’s
and women’s family roles forward. Such an evolution would also have a
beneficial influence on attitudinal and behavioural changes towards men as
caregivers to dependent elderly parents and other dependent family members.
a micro-social level, the main obstacles to progress clearly seem to be a
failure of couples to talk to one another and the resistance of both to change.
The age-old division of tasks is arguably still perceived by many as intrinsic
to the affirmation of their respective gendered identities.
equality between men’s and women’s rights cannot stop short at the workplace
and public sphere, however essential that may be. It must also extend to the
private sphere where the family holds pride of place, failing which the
existing gender inequalities will be perpetuated indefinitely.
broad spheres of public policy action can be drawn, in order:
- gender equality in employment
- family service provision
- flexible working hours and, more
especially, parental and family leave
- education and training
-social organisation of time.
this should be added the individualisation of social security rights and tax
law, both of which have a positive impact on women’s absorption into
recommendations are addressed to local, regional, national and European
authorities, as each level has an important role to play. In order to create favourable conditions,
improved men’s take-up of family responsibilities requires a comprehensive
approach at all levels of authority.
You can download the brochure hereafter in English, French, German, Greek, Finnish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese.
Published on 23 Dec 2009
Updated on 27 Mar 2013