Do men need to play a more active role in childcare?

Our latest Female Nation Survey results show that more than half of South Africa's women are the primary care givers when it comes to providing for their kids.

According to our 2013 Female Nation Survey, 59% of South Africa's women say that they provide the most family care. Furthermore, only 31% are part of a partnership where the care-giving roles are shared equally, while a measly 4% state that their partners provide the most care.

When it comes to giving their time and seeing to the emotional and physical well-being of their kids, it seems women (both working and non-working) are at the forefront when it comes to being invested in the growth and development of children.

So, where are the men?

Are men absent fathers because it's expected of them to be the main breadwinners? Does society still dictate that the gender roles, when it comes to parenting, should be conformed to the traditional archetype?

I'd like to think not, but as this reader on Parent24 puts it, the judgement coin often affects both parties.

People are surprised that men can change nappies (and I quote from her article:” let's stop this practice of seeing dads as baby sitters and give them a bit of credit where it’s due)", while women who assume the role of the equal (or main breadwinner) are judged for not taking the role of parenting very seriously.

The problem, unfortunately, is this: the women who are the primary care givers are also the ones who contribute the most towards family related finances.

Now that is a nasty position to be in.

As a single and unmarried female not planning to have any kids of her own, I can't help but wonder, just how do these super women manage to make it work?

Given that working flexi-time is an option that's not readily available at many companies, juggling a career, parenting and a household is what most SA women are forced to do. Since our last survey this state of affairs has only gone up. (In 2009 49% of women were the main breadwinners AND caregivers compared to the 61% in 2013)

What's interesting to note is that these woman who provide the most family care, would interestingly enough, not prefer to work from home, in comparison to the women who've stated that someone else (not necessarily their partner or spouse) is the prime caregiver.

In fact, 87 % of those women would prefer to work from home.

The conclusion that one could draw from this is that these women choose this to find some refuge from being at home. I mean, let's face it, sometimes life at home is just as, if not more chaotic than being at work.

But, if these women are balancing both their careers and parenthood, how then, do they manage to cope?
Well, our survey indicates that half of these women have some form of domestic help.

Of this group, 33% have help come in at least once or twice a week, 8% less than once a week and at least 15% have help come in every day.

Of course, hiring help does not come easy, and income earned definitely comes into play here.

As many as 40% of the women who have children would certainly get more help if they could afford to pay for a domestic worker.

The rest of the findings are bracketed as follows: 27% would prefer looking after their own kids, 20% would rather opt for day care, while the final 12% would rather entrust the care of the kids to relatives.'s 2013 Female Nation Survey results have been weighted to represent over 1 million urban South African women over the age of 18 and who are earning R6000 or more a month.

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