Just in time for Father’s Day, MenCare, a global campaign to promote men’s and boys’ involvement as equitable, non-violent caregivers, has released State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action 2017.

In addition to its advocacy and programming activities in 40 countries worldwide, MenCare does a great deal of research. Their 2015 report presented a comprehensive global overview of trends related to equal caregiving and other changing dynamics. More than anything, it was a status report. The 2017 report, which is focused on how to progress, outlines a plan of action meant to create equality in caregiving structures and legislation globally.

The report’s priority areas for action include:

  • Showing all individuals that they are both caregivers and providers—and supporting them in this work
  • Encouraging paid leave that is shared equally between mothers and fathers, working toward an equitable distribution of care
  • Managing constraints such as extreme economic hardship and lack of access to income supporters and subsidies
  • Instituting effective parenting training

Who equitable caregiving benefits…and how

By equally distributing caregiving among mothers and fathers, everyone benefits. Women benefit from improved health, better sexual and reproductive rights, maternal health, and physical and mental health. Children benefit from having two equally involved caregivers, and their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development are improved. In addition, seeing men take on chores and women being paid for work contributes to kids’ acceptance of new norms, creating a positive cycle. Men share in the joys of raising their children, breaking free of traditional constructs of manhood, and sharing in the care has a positive effect on their mental and physical health.

Paid leave for parents

One of the most startling sections of the report discusses the different degrees to which countries have legislated paid leave for parents. Some highlights:

  • Australia provides 20 weeks of paid leave for both parents
  • Austria provides between 52 and 104 weeks
  • Canada provides 35
  • The Czech Republic provides 156
  • Finland provides 149.8
  • Germany provides between 44 and 96
  • Iceland provides between approximately 18
  • Japan provides 52
  • South Korea provides 52
  • Sweden provides 61.8
  • The UK provides 39

In the two years since the first State of the World’s Fathers report, several countries—Brazil, Iran, Israel, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay—have instituted new or expanded paid paternity leave or parental leave policies. In the vast majority of countries offering paternity leave, it is paid leave at typically 100 percent of salary.

These programs are shown to improve employee retention and reduce turnover, increase productivity and morale, and reduce absenteeism and training costs.

Where is the United States in all this? In sharp contrast, the US provides for zero weeks’ leave. Though individual companies have chosen to provide leave for their employees, as a nation the US has not passed legislation requiring companies to provide this benefit.

To read the complete report, visit men-care.org.

—Tony Buchsbaum