Yesterday’s release of the State of the World’s Fathers Report brought together a cross section of expert speakers and passionate delegates, all of whom gathered at UN headquarters as Father’s Day quickly approaches. But this year marks a unique milestone for fatherhood around the world, because a comprehensive study on the social and economic impacts of fathers has never been conducted until now. The result is a 287-page report that touches on a wide range of issues from the economics of care-giving to analysis on gender-based violence and the proven benefits of children having positive male role models.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that cultural concepts about masculinity can have far reaching influence on a country’s development. At their worst, men act as an obstacle to change, stalling much needed progress indefinitely. But at their best, they are significant contributors to things like girls’ education and child development. And understanding how and why that takes place is the underlining motivation for the study. In fact, key findings in the report detail how lives and livelihoods can be drastically altered by the presence or absence of paid parental leave, the degree to which care work in the home is shared equally, or by a man’s attitude towards sexual and reproductive health.
In her opening remarks for the event, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton articulated that this data not only helps measure progress, but can also drive progress.
Another speaker put it differently, “The things that matter are the things you count.”
With that in mind, tracking and analyzing fatherhood going forward can only mean better informed approaches to addressing the needs of men, women, and children globally. Because beyond keynote speeches and panel discussions, the real purpose of this effort is to work in partnership with the substantial research that already exists concerning the well-being of women and children. Powered by that information, everyone is better able to thrive and we’re no longer left with an enormous blind spot when it comes to gender in the world.
It’s like a Father’s Day gift for everybody.