Historically women have taken up the responsibility of child rear and care. The role of mothers in a child’s upbringing is considered to be of utmost importance. However, the role of fathers is not given due significance. Recently as the BCCI granted a paternity leave to the captain of the Indian Cricket Team, it is highlighted that even today, in India where maternity leave is a legal right for every woman, paternity leave has no legal provision. Such provisions further increase gender inequality and validate the existing stereotype of women being emotional and sensitive and men being logical and tough.
However given a chance, this could change. This was found out in a study conducted by HCL Foundation and Sesame Workshop – India in Lucknow, among 345 fathers of children in the age group of 3-8 years, with an equal split across socio-economic categories. The study aimed to ascertain the role of a father in a child’s early learning and development. According to this study, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in bringing fathers closer to their children. The study also informed about existing parenting trends and changes in time spent with children due to COVID situation, understanding the demographic profile, consumption of media and patterns of social media engagement of fathers among others.
Daddy Cool Campaign
Building upon the findings of the study, HCL Foundation and Sesame Workshop – India designed the Daddy Cool focusing on improving positive engagement of fathers in child’s early learning & overall development by creating content focused on the role of fathers. It is expected to bring change in attitudes and behaviours that break down stereotypical male and female caregiver roles so that fathers exhibit more positive parenting practices and nurturing interactions with children.
“Research shows that an involved dad can make a big difference in the lives of his children. His involvement is positively correlated with children’s overall social competence, maturity, and capacity for relatedness with others. Dads have unique strengths and unique needs. So, how can we best support them? Together with HCL Foundation, we have launched this initiative to build on learnings and help fathers realize their potential in helping children achieve their dreams,” said Sonali Khan, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop – India. “We believe in using the power of the beloved Muppets of Sesame Street, to design resources to build on how crucial fathers are to their children and families, and how one can empower them to foster nurturing connections with the children in their lives.”
The campaign is targeted at fathers in the age group of 25-44 years living in the urban slums of Lucknow. It will build on the importance of paternal engagement with young children through a multi-channel approach using Radio and Social Media. This would include the distribution of audio public service announcements over radio channels along with discussions with experts. Videos will also be disseminated through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and amplified via partnerships with NGOs working in ECCE and Gender, as well as education experts and influencers.
The aim and purpose of the Daddy Cool campaign is to contribute to improving gender roles in a child’s upbringing. From an increase in time spent between father & child, to an improved joyful learning experience – right from enhancing the degree of involvement in caregiving activities to resorting to positive communication, mentoring and disciplining styles, to spending more amount of time in positive engagement activities with their child to challenging gender stereotypes associated with their role in child’s life and play.
An upcoming notion within the policy is to find ways to encourage fathers’ participation in children’s lives and view them as co-contributors to gender equity and family wellbeing. While much is being done around building parental capacity for child development, parent-training content and programs targeting or including fathers, have been few and far between.