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A father reading a story

Odense is fighting for the rights of fathers

Odense is fighting for the rights of fathers

On 6 September, the Danish municipality opened its first “Fathers Playroom”

For many years, mothers have faced the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting all alone. Subsequently, employers have given women the right to take paid time off work as maternity leave. During this time, women often attend playgroups where they bond with their children, engage with other mothers, and seek support from those who relate to them.

However, now that times are progressing, the roles of parents are changing. In other words, fathers have stepped forward and are now taking part in all the various stages of parenting. That is, they are involved in the mother’s pregnancy, the childbirth, and the following care of their children.

Despite this, while fathers have become more and more proactive in the care and upbringing of their children, they do not have the same opportunities in terms of parental leave or fathers’ playgroups. Acknowledging this issue, the Danish Municipality of Odense has collaborated with the Forum for Men’s Health to take concrete action.

Helping fathers access support

On 6 September, Odense opened its first “Fathers Playroom” where fathers of children (ages 0-5) can spend time with their kids and form important relationships with other parents. While mothers have been able to access this type of support for many years, fathers have not had the opportunity to discuss fatherhood and its challenges with other men in their position.

Charlotte Paarup, a nurse from Sundhedsplejen Nord in Odense, commented: “As a health nurse, I experience that fathers today are very involved and committed to their children. The fathers we meet emphasise being present, having contact and very much wanting to have time with their child. It is of great importance for the fathers to be regarded as an equally important parent in their role towards both mother and child.”

Taking this further, Child and Youth Counsellor Susanne Crawley Larsen also highlighted that parental leave is an area in which the two sexes still differ. In other words, fathers are not permitted to take as much time off as mothers following the birth of their children. Furthermore, families that do not consist of one mother and one father also experience unequal opportunities in terms of paid leave.

With the establishment of the Fathers Playroom, Odense Municipality comes one step closer to eradicating inequality and promoting healthier father-child relationships. According to the municipality, there are only 25 such playrooms in the country.

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