From Providers to Carers: Men as Fathers

"Twenty years ago, fatherhood wasn’t much of a political issue. Gender activists in South Africa focused on the ravages of HIV and gender-based violence. Concerns about fatherhood centred on men as abusive or absent fathers, not accepting responsibility or paying maintenance for their children. This trope in the media and popular discourse in many parts of the world ultimately prompted a global fatherhood movement calling for men to be more engaged and for governments and society to be active in facilitating their involvement with their children."

This is the introduction to the report of a new study being released on 12 July 2018 by the HSRC and its research partners. The State of South Africa’s Fathers 2018 report is sub-titled From Providers to Carers: Men as Fathers and was compiled by a team from the HSRC and Sonke Gender Justice. Donors of this inaugural report include the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Human Development, the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and the DG Murray Trust.

There is no typical father in South Africa. There are many types of fathers and many types of fatherhood in the country. There are biological fathers, social fathers, gay fathers, straight fathers, young fathers, older fathers. We have self-identified fatherhood, ascribed fatherhood, long-distance fatherhood and proximal fatherhood, to name only a few. The texture is rich by age, race, class, geo-type, ethnicity or family type. Mothers, fathers and children experience a wide canvas of fatherhood portrayals. Such a richly textured canvas requires sensitivity that moves beyond simplistic interpretations.

This report introduces the history of fatherhood research in South Africa, and of key moments about fatherhood in the country to date; it provides a description of the state of fathers in South Africa in the overview, and then examines fatherhood in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The report explicitly uses an appreciative approach to document the importance of fatherhood for children, families and society by focusing on positive examples, and gives an opportunity for new voices to join the community of researchers, activists and others working on fatherhood.

This “State of South Africa’s Fathers 2018” report is produced as a MenCare Global Fatherhood Campaign affiliated resource. The report forms part of a set of country- and region-focused reports on men’s involvement as caregivers around the world, inspired by the “State of the World’s Fathers” reports. The first-ever “State of the World’s Fathers” report was published in 2015, and followed by the “State of the World’s Fathers: Time for Action” in 2017. “State of the World’s Fathers”reports available in multiple languages, and regional and country reports in the same series, are available at

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Donald Mdadane Says:15 July 2018
The family is the cornerstone of the society. Fathers who are active participants in community development and act as role models are close to extinction. The focus on girl child mentoring, gender equality and women empowerment has been implemented at the expense of grooming young men into responsible citizens.
The role of churches, cultural and political leaders as well as industry captains is paramount if we are to overt this problem.