SOS Children’s Villages is running ‘Fathers Clubs’ in Albania to encourage men to take a more active role in childcare. The role of fathers in child development is frequently under-valued but strengthening their involvement can contribute significantly to a child’s educational attainment, emotional well-being and social behaviour.
The clubs were introduced when it became evident that gender stereotypes and preconceptions in Albania were discouraging men from participating in the workshops, counselling sessions and support programmes the charity provides for vulnerable families. They have successfully reduced the gender disparity in child-care amongst participating families, with fathers demonstrating greater participation in their children’s education and social lives.
The clubs have also provided fathers with a parenting network they can turn to for future support. This has proved invaluable during times of increased hardship, with the men working together to make repairs, solve financial crisis’ and improve each other’s living conditions.
Many of the male participants have limited educational qualifications and struggle to find employment. The clubs are offering the fathers training and employability support, improving their financial stability and familial relationships. Poverty and unemployment is a known cause of family breakdown and can lead to marital tension, depression, abuse and addiction.
Julian Uka, SOS Children’s Villages Family Strengthening Coordinator for Tirana said: “Men are typically the dominant figure in the family in Albania and take on the role of breadwinner. Often, working on your soft skills can be perceived as a weakness. Thanks to the clubs we have now reached a stage where fathers no longer consider psychological counselling a taboo, they see it as a means of improving the lives of their families.
“All our work is ultimately aimed at the children’s wellbeing, but you cannot make a significant change if you only focus on the children, you also have to bring about change in the parents. The relationship between fathers and mothers directly affects the behaviour of children, who see them as role models.”
The first Albanian ‘Fathers Club’ was launched in Tirana in 2010 with just seven participants. Since then SOS Children’s Villages community outreach programme in Albania has encouraged more than 60 fathers to join. The success of the programme has led the charity to consider expanding the concept into more remote areas of the country so more vulnerable families can benefit from this support.
Find out more about our family strengthening work around the world.
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.