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This Father’s Day, British men are expected to spend just 24 minutes caring for their children, compared to every hour spent by mums, according to the Fatherhood Institute's Fairness In Families Index (FIFI).
The figures rate UK parents as the worst in the developed world at sharing their childcare responsibilities, seeing the UK come twelfth out of 22 countries measured in the Fairness In Families Index – dropping three places since 2010.
The FIFI encompasses a series of measures designed to compare countries’ progress towards the goal of gender equality.
Chair of the Fatherhood Institute, Will McDonald said: “It’s clear that today’s fathers want to play a substantial role in caring for their young children – and mothers want more sharing too. Having dads more involved brings benefits for the children, the mothers, the couple and society.
“What our analysis shows is that compared to other countries, the UK has failed to create the structures to support families to achieve the greater sharing that they want, and that is so important for our children’s futures. This needs to change, or we will continue to fall behind.”
The top five countries in the 2016 index are all Scandinavian with Sweden taking the top spot. Other countries more gender-equal than the UK include: France, Italy and New Zealand.
The FIFI indicator compares the amount of childcare done by men and women. Portuguese men were revealed to do the most, performing 39 minutes for every hour done by women, compared to 24 minutes per hour by UK men.
The analysis further revealed that UK men and women are better at sharing housework than childcare, seeing British men performing 34 minutes of housework and cooking for every hour done by women, placing the UK in fifth place in the table out of 15 countries. Denmark took the lead, seeing men do 44 minutes for every hour done by women.
Commenting on the figures, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker, commented: “We are shocked but not surprised by these findings.
“The Fatherhood Institute’s research clearly shows that UK dads and mums are held back from equal parenting by the gender pay gap and a deeply uneven parental leave system. It simply does not make financial sense for many dads to prioritise parenting over work, and this harms everyone. We are the only party making these issues a political priority.”
The UK’s parenting leave system was revealed to be the eleventh most equal out of 21 countries in the indicator, despite the introduction of Shared Parental Leave in April 2015, while Iceland was reported to have the most gender-equal parenting leave system.
The gender pay gap was noted to be one of the contributing factors towards the sharing of childcare responsibilities. The research revealed the UK’s gender pay gap leaves British women earning an average of 17.4 per cent less than men in similar full-time jobs, which places the UK fifteenth out of 22 countries measured. New Zealand secured first place, where the gender pay gap is just 5.6 per cent.
In the UK, few men work part-time and account for just 25.8 per cent of the part-time workforce, seeing the UK be named sixteenth out of 21 countries measured. Portugal came first with more than 42 per cent of men working part-time, with part-time working being strongly associated with undertaking caring responsibilities at home.
Flexible working and Shared Parental Leave
The FIFI analysis highlights the number of UK mums and dads being prevented from enjoying greater gender equality, not through men’s lack of interest in caring for their children but through a combination of factors, including: the UK’s gender pay gap, the current Shared Parental Leave system and family services that are targeted at supporting mothers.
The Fatherhood Institute revealed three key policy changes that they believe the Government could make to support the UK to become a more gender-equal place to live and work, including:
• Redesign parenting leave, moving towards a Scandinavian-style system including a substantial period of well-paid, ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ leave for fathers;
• Strengthen efforts to reduce the gender pay gap;
• Require early years, schools, social work and maternity services to publish data on their engagement with fathers; and be inspected on this by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.
In response to the findings, Rt Hon MP and chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, Maria Miller added: “The findings of the Fairness in Families Index are worrying. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the parenting revolution that millennials want to see and the PM won’t succeed in his vision of eliminating the gender pay gap unless we see a more equal sharing of parental duties as the new norm.
“Time out of the labour market to look after young children sets back women’s earning power. This Government’s done more than any other to help provide the framework: the right for everyone to request flexible working and the introduction of Shared Parental Leave but what we haven’t seen is a shift in workplace attitudes. So now men are encountering the same prejudice many women face when they take up their new right to shared parental leave.
“The best employers know they need to support fathers as well as mothers to get the best out of their workforce. Until fathers can take up more parental responsibility, particularly when their children are very young, we won’t see a reduction in the gender pay gap.”
Read the full report here and follow the conversation on social media using #fairnessinfamilies.