Seminar on new experiences of fatherhood and caregiving held in Parma, Italy

Participants at the fatherhood and caregiving held in Parma, Italy

On September 22–23, 2017, the University of Parma hosted a seminar in Parma, Italy on the current realities of fatherhood and caregiving, along with MenCare partner Il Giardino dei Padri (a network of Italian organizations) and local associations from Parma, led by Maurizio Artoni of Il Cerchio dei Papà.

In recent decades, perceptions of fatherhood and fathers’ roles have begun to change. More slowly than some other countries, fathers in Italy are beginning to become more engaged in parenting and caregiving. This transformation is the result of changes in expectations and opportunities for women and mothers, of greater investment in the construction of spaces for men’s intimacy and care, and of a more varied landscape of family and relational structures.

Despite these changes, however, public conversation has not kept up with the social transformations related to new models of fatherhood, new methods of parenting, and more equitable relationships.

The seminar, therefore, aimed to bring an influential group of scholars engaged in research on these issues together with key leaders of initiatives, projects, and campaigns developed by organizations and institutions. The purpose was not only to provide a series of snapshots about the realities of caregiving today, but also to look forward to additional pathways of support encouraging new and more equitable forms of fatherhood.

On the first day of the seminar, a group of scholars spoke about the emergence of new models of engaged fatherhood in Italy. They discussed shifts toward more equitable gender roles within families, as well as enduring stereotypes and policy obstacles to equality (such as a paternity leave policy of only two days). An experience-sharing session for organizations working to engage fathers followed, which included a presentation of the MenCare Global Meeting 2017 in Belgrade, Serbia and of the International Platform for Equal, Non-Transferable and Fully Paid Parental Leave (PLENT).

On the second day of the seminar, Il Giardino dei Padri facilitated a working session to plan shared actions to promote men’s equitable involvement in caregiving. Participants agreed to hold an annual meeting on engaged fatherhood, to reach out to other associations and relevant actors working on these themes, and to collect and share best practices. The major decision reached was to endorse PLENT and to organize a general meeting on the subject in Florence in early 2018. In the meantime, a sub-working group will develop policy options and communication strategy proposals to introduce the platform in Italy.

Learn more about the seminar in Italian here.