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The opinion poll brought surprising results: society strongly supports men’s involvement in family life

Society strongly supports the active involvement of men in family life. The results of a recent public opinion poll initiated by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson were surprising: the public welcomes paternity, family-related characteristics of men, a more active father’s role in the family and supports all men who do not want to be just “the weekend dads”. The Office presented these results by launching a public service announcement called “Being a father is the greatest gift”.

“I was surprised by such great public support and acceptance that fathers need to be more active in caring for their children and participating in family life. A man taking care of children is not and should not be a taboo or a sign of failed masculinity. It turns out that the stereotype that raising children is a women's concern is not as strong as it may seem,” says Donatas Paulauskas, an expert from the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson.

Dad can take care of children as good as mom

In the public opinion poll conducted in July 2020, 7 out of 10 respondents said it seemed normal for them when a man takes a parental leave. The same number of people (69%) find it normal for a man to take a sick leave when a child or other family member in need of care falls ill.

There is a general perception in society that dads can take care of infants as good as mothers: 71% of women and 56% of men in the survey.

The poll shows that there is a growing need for equal partnership in caring for children and sharing family responsibilities. 74% of women and 56% of men said they would like to share these responsibilities equally.

“It is true that women believe in men much more than men themselves. Women are more optimistic about the situation and hope that men will be more involved in raising children and family life. The good news is that society is looking forward to a more active involvement of men in childcare,” emphasizes D. Paulauskas.

Fathers should take a part of parental leave

6 out of 10 respondents believe that a father should be encouraged to take at least a few months of parental leave before the child reaches the age of two.

“It’s great that people tend to support greater involvement of fathers in raising children. From 2022, in the course of implementation of the EU directive, it is planned to introduce a non-transferable 2-month childcare period in Lithuania, which will help to ensure that fathers will have a valuable opportunity to spend more time with their children on an equal footing with mothers. It seems that public opinion is favorable for these changes,” says Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson Agneta Skardžiuvienė.

Mrs. Skardžiuvienė underlines that fathers and mothers should be able to choose the period of childcare flexibly and draws attention to the importance of ensuring access to available kindergartens and nurseries.

Devotion to parenthood is hampered by fear and career priority

However, respondents were a little more skeptical about the equal distribution of parental leave: only a third (38%) of respondents agreed with the statement that fathers should take the parental leave of equal duration with mothers.

The study found that men feel a greater threat to their careers if they become more actively involved in family life. Men (32%) more than women (23%) fear that taking parental leave would negatively affect their careers. Similarly, men (39%) and women (37%) admitted that their careers would be adversely affected by recurrent sick leave.

Family, leisure and the opportunity to reconcile work and private life are more important for women than career, and vice versa for men. Respondents reacted differently to the statement “If I could not reconcile family and private life with work, I would consider changing jobs”: 53% of women agreed on this comparing to 36% of men. A large proportion of men (40%) could not choose an unambiguous answer. The fact that women value the possibility of reconciling work and private life more than men is also evident from the fact that as many as 44% of women said they would agree to work in a lower-paid job but with the opportunity to reconcile work and private life. Only 25% of men would decide to do it.

“The results of the poll revealed how distant men are to family life and how – on the contrary – extremely involved women are. Men did not show such a strong need to become more involved in family life: 56% of men comparing to 73% of women said that they would like to have more time with family. Men did not show strong support of early involvement in childcare that would require a career break. The statement “I would like not to work until my child is small” was supported by 71% of women and only 38% of men,” – D. Paulauskas notices the real situation, which still lags behind the positive expectations.

The priorities that men and women choose in their free time is also different: long working hours often prevent men from enjoying travel, being in nature, and women from raising children. Men chose the answers that long working hours are the biggest obstacle to traveling, being in nature (20%), taking proper care of their health (16%) and spending time with the loved ones (16%) and only then – taking care of children and participating in their upbringing. Women most often chose the care for children (22%), their own health (21%) and traveling, being in nature (20%).

“Being a Father is the Greatest Gift” Campaign

The Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson is launching an awareness-raising campaign (public service announcement) “Being a Father is the Greatest Gift”. It aims to encourage men to become more involved in raising children from the earliest days of a child's life. During the campaign, social advertisements will be available on TV screens, radio stations, and outdoor advertisements for two weeks, and fathers will share their experiences of raising their children on social media networks.

A new website about work-life balance – www.daugiaubalanso.lt – is starting today alongside the campaign.

The project partners are the social advertising agency Nomoshiti, the Center for the Equality Advancement and the Ministry of Social Security and Labor.

A representative survey commissioned by the Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson was conducted by the Public Opinion and Market Research Center “Vilmorus”. The survey was conducted in July, 2020. It surveyed 1,000 respondents: 475 women and 525 men participated in the survey. Selection method: multistage, probabilistic selection. The selection of respondents was conducted in such a way that every resident of Lithuania would have an equal probability of being interviewed. The research error is 3.1%.

The campaing video (subtitles available in English, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, French, Russian, German):

Birutė Sabatauskaitė

Birutė Sabatauskaitė

Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson of the Republic of Lithuania

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