Father's Day is this Sunday - so what better day to celebrate the amazing dads who are standing up for a better world for their daughters? From dads in the UK who want their daughters to feel zero shame around their periods, to dads in Kenya protecting their daughters from female genital mutilation (FGM), we're thanking the dads who are fighting for gender equality.
Our recent YouGov poll of attitudes around periods in the UK found that nearly half (47%) of women surveyed say they would feel uncomfortable discussing periods with their dads. But when men were asked if they would feel uncomfortable discussing periods with their daughters, only 9% said yes. So dads are much more up for talking about periods and helping dispel the taboos around periods than perhaps a lot of us might think.
One dad who is definitely on board is Mike, who came to our tent at Latitude Festival last year. Alongside one of his daughters, he describes why he thinks it’s so important for there to be open conversation and education around periods.
UK (@ActionAidUK) July 17, 2016
Dads standing up to FGM
And dads aren’t just making sure that their daughters aren’t held back by their periods. In Kenya, dads like Pastor Emmanuel are ensuring that their daughters will not be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).
Emmanuel has three daughters: Sharon, 10, Rebecca, 14, and Shamma, aged seven.
“My girls will never, ever, undergo FGM,” Emmanuel says. “My daughters are my life and I cannot do that.
“It is an injustice. FGM will rob them of their rights, FGM will cut their education short, FGM will make my girls not to have a safe path in life.”
My daughters are my life.
Emmanuel says that in West Pokot, where the family lives, a girl who is uncut will not fetch as many cows as part of her dowry. But he has different dreams for his girls.
“I’ve told them…I want you, in the next 20 years, to drive your own car. You will live in a very good house, better than mine. And they have told me, ‘Yes, we will do that’.”
Dads protecting their daughters from forced child marriage
Veronica and her dad, Joel, didn’t always have the best relationship. They also live in West Pokot, Kenya, but Veronica ran away from home because she knew that her parents wanted her to drop out of school and get married.
With the help of the KOMESI Women’s Network, a community-based organisation that work in partnership with ActionAid Kenya, Veroncia was re-enrolled in school. The Women’s Network then approached Veronica’s father and some other men in his community and held outreach sessions and forums on girl’s rights and the importance of education.
After working with the KOMESI Women’s Network, Joel supported Veronica’s wish to go back to school and return to her family. Veronica is delighted to be back at school in her local community and is happy that her parents now understand the value of education and respect her rights.
“I love my father… I know he loves me too because he protects me from early marriage and he has refused to accept requests for my hand in marriage. When I grow up I want to be a teacher.”
Dads supporting their daughters after rape
When Janet was just 11, she was raped by a neighbour.
She ran home to her dad, Ankomi, who had been trained by one of ActionAid’s Community Based Anti Violence Teams (COMBAT). He said: “Through this education I learnt what to do if something happens. It gave me courage to take my daughter’s case to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit.”
Afterwards, Ankomi took Janet to the hospital, where she had to have an operation. The COMBAT team supported the family throughout Janet’s recovery, and gave Ankomi counselling as well as Janet.
Janet is now back in school. She says, “Maybe I’ll become a COMBAT member in the future. Because of the education COMBAT gave us we knew what to do. I want to be an example.”
This Father’s Day, you can help support our work while saying thank you to your dad at the same time. Whether he’s a foodie, loves reading, or getting out on his bike, your dad will love a thoughtful gift that will also help to change lives for good. Buy a Gifts in Action for your dad this Father’s Day.
Photo credits: Ashley Hamer /ActionAid, Nana Kofi Acquah/ActionAid