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Gender Equality in the Home - We all Win!

November 26 2018 - by Carole Houlihan, CLP's Gender and Diversity Specialist

Recently, one of the CLP Leadership Development Programme facilitators commented on the fact that two participants in an on-line peer coaching session had small children playing in the room.  He noted that the participants were men - fathers of the children.

For many of us who work from home and have children, this is not new. Years ago, a colleague had advised me to keep candy in my desk drawer to entice my toddlers to be quiet during business phone calls!

With a new generation of men and women there is a movement towards greater equality in both the workplace and the home. On November 19th, Jamaica hosted a consultation on paternity leave and other best practices towards parental leave for fathers in celebration of International Men's Day (IMD).

International Men's Day (IMD), an annual event, focuses on men's and boys' health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. The theme for 2018 is Men Leading by Example.

One of the founders is Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a lecturer at UWI St. Augustine. He notes that “activists are striving for gender equality and patiently attempt to remove the negative images and the stigma associated with men in our society."[1]

The Jamaica event[2], Reinforcing Positive Male Role Models, is part of the Government's No Excuse for Abuse Public Education Campaign aimed at reducing gender-based violence. It was organised by the Bureau of Gender Affairs, UNDP, Citizen Security and Justice Programme, Institute of Gender & Development Studies and other stakeholders.

During the event participants discussed research conducted by the Gender Bureau, the relevance of paternity leave, its potential impacts and how it should be handled. Questions included: Should Jamaican men get paternity leave? Should the length of paternity leave be equal to that of maternity leave? Public sector trade unions have been asking government to introduce a paternity leave policy in the country, similar to the Maternity Leave Act, which currently exists.

Research suggests that paternity leave is important for men to bond with their children. Studies show that fathers who take at least two weeks of paternity leave are likely to continue being involved in child caring activities, such as feeding and diapering. Longer leave of several weeks or months can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace. In some countries parental leave can be shared between parents.

Several countries in the region have already enacted legislation to provide paternity leave, including Belize and Saint Lucia. The Guyana Women and Gender Equality Commission recommended introducing paternity leave in June 2017.

Does your country provide paternity leave?

Are discussions taking place around the issue?   

In your view, what are the potential benefits and costs for families, employers and society?

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Jacqueline - Reply

I agree wholeheartedly that paternity leave should be an option for all fathers. I recently heard discussions along these lines in Jamaica and I hope it becomes policy soon. Fathers will get to bond with children from an earlier age which will then allow for a better appreciation of the process and will encourage continued inclusion of the fathers in the lives of the children. It will give greater stability to the family where both parents are present and childdren get raised from the female and male perspective.

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