From where I stand: “Involved fatherhood helped us to get through the lockdown”Osman Doğan is a schoolteacher in Bursa, a north-western province of Turkey. He has a 12-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son. Together with his wife and children, they have been locked down at home during the COVID-19 pandemic for almost three months. However, thanks to his engagement as a father and experience as a fatherhood trainer within the Father Support Programme, implemented by Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), and supported by the EU-UN Women regional programme on ending violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey, “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” the family coped with the situation through communication and sharing household responsibilities.
I wanted to be a better father. When I joined the programme, I learned a lot about involved fatherhood. I learned about empathy, respect for diversity, developing positive behaviour in children, communication barriers, non-discrimination between girls and boys, and developing more egalitarian attitudes at home.
The programme completely changed our family life. I learned to spend quality time with my kids. Before, I thought that we were spending time together when we had dinner or watched TV together.
I used to make all the decisions at home by myself. Now, we make decisions together with my wife and children. I take my children’s requests more into consideration. I listen to my wife, my colleagues and people in my daily life more, and I really like this.
We have been in lockdown at home for almost three months. As schools are still closed, the distance learning continues. My wife is also a teacher. Our days are full of education, both for our own students and for our children. There is always a school atmosphere at home during isolation.
After the classes, we spend quality time together as a family. We play games. We cook together. We ride bicycle. My wife and I share the household responsibilities. We have an agreement to clean together – my wife vacuums and I mop.
Likewise, we take mutual responsibilities regarding the children. We divide responsibilities based on what we are good at. We try to remove the stress that the coronavirus has brought into our lives by talking and listening to each other.
During the lockdown, we also talked with other fathers in the programme. I had to close my Father Support Programme group because of COVID-19 measures, but I am still in contact with the fathers. I share children’s activities and programme session summaries from AÇEV with the group through WhatsApp and e-mail.
We [the fathers in the programme] have seen that the knowledge and experience we gained in the programme helped us a lot during isolation. As a result, we don't feel helpless. We do not see ourselves as fathers who do not know how to communicate with their spouses and children at home. Involved fatherhood helped us to get through the lockdown.”
Osman Doğan attended the Father Support Programme, implemented by Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), three years ago. He then became a trainer of the programme. AÇEV implemented a project on innovative strategies that promote favourable attitudes and behaviours towards gender equality and ending violence against women under the framework of EU – UN Women regional program “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds.” The work of Doğan contributes to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.