Time up for truant dads
THE government wants to implement a policy that will force fathers to play a more prominent role in the upbringing of their children.
This is contained in the Green Paper on Families, which was released for public comment by Social Development Deputy Minister Maria Ntuli.
The paper advocates for family life in the form of marriage, strengthening foster care, gender equality and gender sensitive policies for men and women, even in the workplace.
Existing programmes focusing on youth development, child protection and domestic violence would also be beefed up.
To support the needy and most vulnerable families, the paper suggests that government should first identify the problems in those families, provide what is needed - be it a job or a home - and coordinate the various agencies available to help.
The paper states that over the years, a significant burden has been placed on women as sole care-givers as a result of absent fathers while some are migrant labourers, leaving women to play a double role of parenting.
In what would be the first of its kind in Africa, the government has put forward guidelines and strategies on how to support these families in order to flourish.
Ntuli believes women should no longer carry the burden alone, fathers should play a care-giving role too. She said the promotion of family life, through father-sensitive policies like statutory paternal leave and flexible working hours, among other interventions, would make society catalysts of national development.
The research, conducted by the Department of Social Development, highlights that social ills like poverty and crime in the country are a result of either weak family systems or non-existent families where children fend for themselves.
Various departments would be roped in to facilitate the implementation of the paper, for example, the use of sports and recreation in the fight against anti-social behaviour, crime and juvenile delinquency.
The paper urges South Africans to voice their views on how to eliminate all conditions eroding family life, like poverty, inequality, unemployment, HIV-Aids and child abuse.