Restoring the role of fathers within the family
Date: Sunday, June 21, 2020
Traditional gender roles have for a long time segregated the roles of parents at home – with mothers usually fully responsible for raising children while fathers act mainly as providers, with little involvement in child-raising.
With an aim to promote more active roles for fathers within their families – including their fundamental influence on children – UN Women Egypt in partnership with the National Council for Women (NCW) organized a “Father and Child” camp to raise awareness of fathers on their essential role and strengthen their bond with their children.
The two-day camp included sports and arts activities for fathers and children to engage in and bring them closer together. Participating fathers also attended seminars and activities focused on positive parenting and the effects of their actions on their children, highlighting the need to end violence, especially against girls and women. Through interactive activities, children learned how to resolve conflicts without violence, how to control their anger or frustration, and how to show gratitude for their parent’s hard work and love.
Amid heartfelt laughter and tears from fathers and children alike, some of the fathers shared their stories and how they came to realize the true meaning of fatherhood:
“I used to believe that a father’s role was just to put food on the table and bring in money. I was just like an ATM machine at home. I didn’t know how to treat my children; I didn’t spend time or talk with them. I didn’t know anything about them and when they came to me with a problem, I just told them to go to their mother. After spending two days in the camp here, I learned the real meaning of fatherhood. I realized that a father shares full responsibility with the mother to raise their children and educate them. I learned that there is more to life and to be a father than just working. I’m not well-educated so I didn’t know much about parenting, but now I have started to changed because of the camp. I plan on spending more time with my children, listening to them and advising them on what is right and what is wrong. I want to joke and laugh with my children and have a more positive energy at home.”
“Because of life’s hardships and stress, I used to be very harsh and short-tempered with my children. Sometimes, I lost control because of the amount of pressure I am under to provide for my family. This, however, is not an excuse for my actions. During the camp, I started to understand what it means to be a father. I promised to change the way I treat my children and spend more time with them. I want to have a strong relationship with my children and close the gap between us. I don’t want them to fear me. I will be a better father and I will change so that I can raise them well, as part of a good generation for the future. I learned that a father should act as a brother and a friend as well, and he should be very gentle with his children.” If each person starts with changing themselves for the better, each family will grow, and our community will progress.
“I raised my children as my mother raised me, and I learned that this is not right. I didn’t know that hitting children has negative impacts on them and that it weakens their personality. This camp made me realize that I need to change the way I treat my daughters and that I need to be more patient with them. I should talk more with them so that I can better understand them. I thought that I was not supposed to get involved with my daughters and that they were their mother’s responsibility. However, I learned that a girl needs her father and that he can be one of her greatest supporters. My children are the most important thing in my life, and I want them to have strong and balanced personalities.” The “Father and Child” Camp was organized by WellSpring Egypt, in partnership with NCW and UN Women under the “Men and Women for Gender Equality” programme, with generous support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The two-day camp took place in November 2019 in Cairo and was attended by 36 fathers and 72 boys and girls from the low-income neighbourhood of Elasmarat.
All photos: Courtesy of WellSpring