By Esther Schippers
Positive relationships with fathers or male caregivers and an environment free of violence are hugely valuable investments in early lives.
This was the key message during a webinar hosted on 17 August 2022 by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC), focusing on the organisation’s interventions and reflections around fatherhood.
The webinar, attended by 67 representatives of various organisations, was the latest in a process aimed at facilitating dialogue and self-reflection around Fatherhood as a positive force in young lives. The programme takes places in the context of high levels of violence against women and children.
Webinar participants were informed that the initiative kicked off on 13 June when a with several organisations These included Sonke Gender Justice, Heartlines and Innovation Edge.
The first phase ran from 17 to 20 June, drawing thousands of people into the dialogue process online.
CABC dialogue facilitator Aviwe Konde said the Fathers’ Day dialogue forms part of the CABC’s work against social prejudice “as it is an aspect of disrupting the intergenerational cycle of violence”.
“The objective was to bring people into a process of self-reflection on fatherhood and engage with the various narratives expressed online,” he added.
Detailing the facilitation process, CABC dialogue facilitator Zenani Dlamini said the team “met via Zoom to share insights, support one another and help each other find dialoguing opportunities”.
The dialoguing intervention included: sharing posts which prompted engagement from social media users about the topics; conducting research into widely held beliefs; and sharing practical mechanisms that could assist in equipping others to change harmful narratives.
Dlamini said that the aim of this initiative was to “facilitate dialoguing online around fatherhood, and shape the narrative around our main themes”.
- The intergenerational effects of fathering as a practice; whether it’s the intergenerational transfer of care or of violence;
- xpanded notions of who fathers are;
- Legitimising uncles, brothers, and other men as social fathers; and
Shifting the lens from co-residence/absence, to the importance of involvement and interaction.
The online conversation was monitored by posts made using the hashtag #IBabasDay and those prompted by designs made by the dialogue team about fatherhood.
CABC dialogue facilitator Kyle Janse said that as part of their findings, the team noticed various sentiments around fatherhood, such as:
Positive fatherhood, with “a significant number of content celebrating fathers who are in their [children’s] lives”;
Debates around father involvement online, where “some people noted that fathers are uninvolved because they have taken up the role of provider and have no time to be home and play with their children despite wanting to” and the celebration of social fathers who were raising children who are not biologically theirs;
Fatherhood, mental health and the social expectations placed on men to either “be strong” or provide
The webinar closed with a commitment to strengthen the programme further.
“Working with fathers in online dialogues is a great way to stop the intergenerational cycle of violence against women which is on the increase. Social media offers us a perfect opportunity to talk to fathers in a compassionate, sympathetic and non-judgemental way. We hope to involve more fathers in our such dialogues,” said Jenna-Lee, head of dialogue facilitation at CABC.
Click here to read the full dialogue facilitation report.