Namibian dads show their true colours

14 March 2019 | Art and Entertainment

A unique exhibition that opened yesterday intends to highlight the crucial role fathers play in the lives of their children, and recognise those dads who take their parental roles seriously, and who are breaking out of the stereotypical distant fatherhood moulds.

The Swedish embassy in South Africa, in collaboration with Sonke Gender Justice, have partnered with local organisations, the White Ribbon Campaign Namibia and Lifeline/Childline, to bring a photo exhibition celebrating fathers caring for their children.

The photo exhibition, showcasing fathers closely interacting with their offspring, intends to tell the stories of childcare through the eyes of dads.

The exhibition forms part of a broader southern African project, which is also being staged in Botswana and South Africa.

Titled 'Namibian Dads', the exhibition opened yesterday at the Okuryangava Disability Centre, and will exhibit photos taken by partners of the fathers who agreed to take part in the project to explore and recognise how modern Namibian dads are stepping “out of the stereotype of the distant father and are becoming more actively involved as caregivers in the home environment”.

While child-rearing has traditionally been the preserve of women globally, this trend is changing as fathers begin to take advantage of parental leave to develop closer bonds with their children early on.

In Namibia, many men are also increasingly getting involved in caregiving to their children and see their role as key to the development and health of their child.

This is in a society where men are often seen and assumed to be absent from this space, a press release issued by the White Ribbon Campaign and Lifeline/Childline, noted. The exhibition will examine why the fathers portrayed in the exhibition chose to stay at home with their children, what the experience of being hands-on dads gives them and how their relationships with their partners and children have changed as a result.

Close bonds with both parents have been shown to carry many positive benefits for the cognitive development of children and maternal health.

The exhibition was launched by gender equality and child welfare minister Doreen Siyoka and includes a panel discussion on the positive effects of generous parental benefit systems and the effects of gender equality in parenting on both individuals and society.

The exhibition closes on 17 March.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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