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Fatherhood and Gender Equity

Gary Barker's Fatherhood and Gender Equity Talk Examines Care Work

— December 24, 2013 — Keynote Trends
In his fatherhood and gender equity talk, Gary Barker describes how the former is a catalyst for the latter. He contends that mens' participation in care work is incredibly crucial. Barker interviewed several low-income men with gang associations, situated in the US and Rio de Janeiro. His studies revealed that the men who were able to disengage from that dangerous lifestyle were those who fostered a connection and responsibility to someone else, whether it be a child, an aging parent or a disabled relative. It follows, then, that engaging in care-work can be a pathway for organizing ones' life differently.

Furthermore, care work can be a serious preventative measure for violence against women. In fact, the most significant reduction in domestic violence has occurred in Norway, following an ambitious gender experiment that granted men two-month paternity leave.

Barker puts forth the notion that we can't make a better (less poor and more equal) world unless we include men in the care-giving process. We need to break down the notion that women do less paid, less important work ("care work") compared to mens "real" work. If we continue to follow this paradigm, we only create careless men who lose the ability to connect. Care work, as Barker notes, is neither inherently male nor female, but an endeavor that makes us human.