Fathers the biggest influence on children’s lives in Sierra Leone, says U-Report survey, as UNICEF highlights parents’ key role ahead of Father’s Day
Freetown, 16 June 2017 – A survey of more than 8,000 people across Sierra Leone suggests fathers and mothers are the biggest influence on people’s lives, with fathers scoring slightly higher than mothers, in a poll carried out in the last few days by the U-Report platform.
But when asked about whether fathers in Sierra Leone were taking their responsibilities seriously, half of respondents selected ‘a little bit’, with only 20 per cent saying ‘definitely’. UNICEF is using Father’s Day, marked this year in many countries on 18 June, to celebrate fatherhood and highlight the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains.
With more than 90 countries celebrating Fathers’ Day this month, the initiative invites families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be ‘super dads,’ using the hashtag #EarlyMomentsMatter on their Instagram and Twitter accounts.
“As we celebrate Father’s Day, I want to encourage all fathers around the world to be part of our children’s lives, especially from an early age. Spend time with your kids, play with them, and share fun moments with them. That will help stimulate their minds as they grow older,” said Jimmy Bangura, a Sierra Leonean music and film producer who is supporting the campaign.
The heart-warming videos and photos of celebrity dads will be coupled with stories of super dads from across the world, including those who are doing their best to raise their children in extremely difficult circumstances.
One such super dad is Tamba Wainde, a 36 year-old painter in Sierra Leone, who is raising two daughters aged 3 and 5 years old. Tamba is a single parent and is doing all he can to keep his young daughters healthy, happy and safe. “I do everything for them including getting them ready for school, dropping them off at school, laundering their clothes, and helping them with their homework. I want to make sure they do well so I make time to be around them and guide them in the right path.”
“The earliest years of life present a critical, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape children’s brain development – and it’s their parents who hold the largest stake in this process,” said Pia Britto, UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development.
“The more fathers, mothers and other family members shower their babies and young children with love, play, good nutrition and protection, the better these children’s chances are of reaching optimal health, happiness and learning ability. Good parenting for young children living in highly stressful conditions like conflict or extreme poverty can even provide a buffer, helping them to fully develop despite adversity,” said Britto.
Good parenting in early childhood, especially during the first 1,000 days, sparks neural connections in children’s brains, laying the foundation for their future successes. Research suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.
The ‘Super Dads’ initiative forms part of UNICEF’s #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign, which aims to drive increased understanding of how children’s environments and experiences in early childhood can shape their future health, well-being, ability to learn, and even how much they will earn as adults.