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Role of Men in the Household

logo-men-in-houseIn the last years, governments have been adopting and implementing legislation and policies designed to close the gap between women and men in terms of occupational segregation, to encourage men and women to fully participate in the labour market while being able to care for and support their dependents. In Malta, various initiatives were taken such as the free childcare services, Breakfast Club and Klabb 3-16 that provides after-school services[1]. A number of family friendly measures (FFMs) such as flexitime and teleworking are available and are deemed to be successful, particularly in the public administration[2]. Women are now more visible in the labour market, which employs 74,271 females of whom 42% are in managerial, technical and professional positions.[3] However, there is still a large gap in gender equality when it comes to men benefiting from FFMs[4].

Gender inequality is still a reality in our society and can be linked to some extent to the unequal work-life division, stemming from the fact that men are generally expected to be providers and breadwinners, while women and girls are generally expected to provide primary care. Women who are  in paid work are still expected to take full responsibility for dependents and the household[5]; whereas men, who go shopping, do the laundry and take the kids to the park, are seen as ‘offering help’ to their partner, implying that it is not their obligation. Statistics show a gender discrepancy of 48.3% between workers doing cooking and housework everyday for one hour or more, of which 65.2% are females and 16.9% are men[6].

This is the reality in a scenario where men and women are both seeking to have careers. Thus, a reconciliation of work-life balance has to be ensured for both genders, to enable both, to have a healthy work and family environment. Studies show several affirmative results in families where couples and/or guardians share responsibilities for dependeants and household duties, primarily being the positive parental contributions to children’s development and in creating a content environment where each member of the family is benefiting equally[7].

For the generation of younger men, the world is not the world of their fathers. Trends seem to indicate that change in the role of men within the household is inevitable. These policies and initiatives should prove fruitful in supporting not only women and men workers, but also their family members, and consequently society in general.

[1] Malta Today, ‘The year ahead in 2016: Women and Gender Equality’ 8th January 2016 http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/printversion/60834/#.V_9K2P77Xcs

[2] PAHRO, Chapter 5: Family Friendly Measures

[3] NSO, Labour Force Survey Q2/2016

[4] PAHRO (2013)

[5] UN (2011), Men in Families and Family Policy in a Changing World

[6] EIGE (2015), Gender Equality Index 2015 Measuring Gender Equality in the European Union 2005-2012 MT Country Profile, p.77

[7] FIRA (2007), The Effects of Father Involvement: an update research study of evidence

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“This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission”.

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