Traditionally, women have taken on a more caring role than men and this still holds true today. This has become a problem, since European and national policy urge women to take on a larger share of labour participation. If women spend more time working outside the home, it would be unfair for them to keep doing the same amount of work within the household. The European Union encourages men to take on a fairer share of the tasks within the household and family. The research project ‘Working Fathers, Caring Men’ was funded by the Community initiative ESF-Equal and co-funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The research was carried out by the Verwey-Jonker Institute in Utrecht.
To achieve a fair distribution of work and care between men and women, good-quality national facilities are required, such as paid leave arrangements, flexible working practices, tax advantages for dual-income families and accessible childcare. But although these arrangements are essential for achieving a fairer distribution, they are not sufficient to ensure that men and women can, in principle, carry out all tasks within the household and family. More will need to change if a more just distribution of household and family tasks between men and women is to take place in the future.
Based on exceptional practices in the Netherlands and good practices from several European countries, this research shows how a change in the distribution of household and family tasks can be brought about.