Dads of daughters

Three friends from various parts of South Africa aim to encourage fathers to be active in the lives of their children through a movement called Dads of Daughters (DoD). The high rate of Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a pressing issue and demands that we search thoroughly for practical and robust solutions. A father’s love and guiding hand is a needed foundation in addressing this problem.

 

These three men are fathers to girl-children themselves and are proud of having healthy relationships with their daughters. Thabo Mashego (40) is from Burgersfort in Limpopo, Mzwandile Nonkula (43) from Mthatha in Eastern Cape and Mpiyakhe Khoza (38) from Qwaqwa in Free State, are community activists at heart. We travel the country with a message of asking men to review their role in raising their children. A father’s presence in the rearing of a child is vital in the development of the child. Fathers instill discipline and it is necessary that they teach children the values of respect, love and awareness at an early age. “When the father is not present and active in a child’s life the child ends up imitating bad behavior learned in the streets. Let us rather ensure we raise strong boys and girls instead of trying in vain to repair broken adults later on.” Mashego’s view.

 

Mashego also adds that” girl-children who have a better relationship with their fathers feel protected, have lesser chance of being bullied and taken advantage of. All these are very important in ensuring that the child grows with a better sense of self and also goes a long way in helping a child with their confidence and self-esteem from an early age.”

 

Dads of daughters movement is in favour of the girl child. We only want to show fathers that their presence help their daughters to grow to be confident women who will later be able to make better choices about the types of relationships they seek to have. They will not seek men who will give them fatherly love because they have already experienced it and know what exactly true love looks and feels like. They will not be desperate.

 

Thabo Mashego has since opened a community library in his village of Kgautswane to bring African literature and stories closer to the youth. Reading stimulates one’s imagination and assist young people to understand their environment and the world better.

 

Nonkula has created a blog called So Says my Dad, which he uses to connect with fathers and share fatherhood experiences. He uses this platform to discuss parental matters at large and seek ideas to improve the spaces and environments where children are raised. He started this blog in 2012 upon learning that he was going to be a father for the first time. Nonkula says “No girl-child must rely on a man for survival and success, and the presence of a father in her life will help that mission.” Therefore it is a father’s responsibility to ensure that his daughter is independent as she becomes a woman.

 

DoD movement does not encourage women to disrespect men – rather to not be dependent on them, and be confident enough to choose who they want to be, as well as the kind of relationships they want. We use factual data to communicate with the society. It has since been proven that girls who grew up without a father around turn to experience social and psychological issues later in life. For example such girls are likely to abuse substances and engage in sexual activities earlier. The issue of poverty cannot be downplayed as they lack financial support from the father.

 

Thapelo Motseo

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