Is Save The Children sexist against Dads?

Save The Children has launched a campaign to give UK mums (but not dads) “the help they need to work their way out of poverty” calling on mums (but not dads) to “show your support for other mums” (but not dads) by signing a manifesto and calling on the Chancellor, George Osborne to do more for mums (but not dads).

The thrust of the campaign is that Save The Children – in partnership with The Daycare Trust, Gingerbread, One Parent Families Scotland and – is campaigning for:

  • More financial support for “lone parents”  returning to work
  • More financial support for “second earners” in two parent families
  • More financial support for low income families
Despite the fact that 8% of lone parents are dads, that one in seven dads are the primary care giver and 44% of dads provide childcare while mums work – The Save The Children campaign makes no reference to supporting single dads in poverty, dads who are the second earner or dads in low income families.
What makes this approach particularly odd is that Save The Children campaigns around the globe against the stereotyping of women and girls as the primary caregiver – and yet in the UK, in bold pink advertising, it is running a campaign that gives the impression that in the UK the only parent that matters is mum.
At the same time it doesn’t highlight the fact that boys in the UK grow up to have  unequal rights as parents in the UK which is a key reason we rank 18th out of 21 developed nations according the Fatherhood Institute’s Family Fairness Index.
Furthermore, the bright pink Help Mums (but not dads) campaign does seem at odds with the charity’s own Gender Equality Policy. Save The Children states that achieving gender equality is fundamental for the realisation of children’s rights. So here are 10 reasons we are inviting the charity to review its campaign – based on its own gender equality policy:

1. Save the Children says “gender equality means ensuring that all human beings – women, men, girls and boys – are considered equal and treated equally in terms of their rights, obligations and opportunities. Gender equality needs to be mainstreamed throughout …..  all of Save the Children’s programmes  …so that the programme itself does not perpetuate gender inequality.”

Is excluding dads from a campaign to give poorer parents better financial support – and only inviting mums to take part in its campaign treating mums and dads equally or is it perpetuating gender inequality?

2. Save the Children “believes that the rigid socialisation of boys and of girls limits their ability to reach their full potential”, Does running a pink campaign about mums – on an issue that affects mums and dads – challenge that rigid socialisation? What message does this campaign send to boys and girls about parenting roles?

3. Save the Children says “girls and boys are socialised into differentiated gender roles that place them within unequal structures of power. Positive examples of boys and men not conforming to their allocated roles should be encouraged and built upon. Save the Children believes that it is critical that men and boys are involved in this process of change.”

So why not use this campaign to celebrate and support singles dads, dads who are second earners and dads in poor families? Why exclude dads and give the impression that the issues it is campaigning on only affect mums and children?

4. Save the Children says that gender equality “is when one sex is not routinely privileged or prioritized over the other” – so why prioritize mums and exclude dads?

5. Save the Children says “both men and women must be supported in taking responsibility for childcare and children’s development” – so why only campaign for more support for mums?

6. Save the Children says that it is a problem that: “parents and communities often reinforce societal prejudices and discrimination on the basis of gender. Furthermore, parenting roles are often gender-stereotyped. Mothers are seen as the primary caregivers.” So if this is a problem when other people do it, why are they doing the exact same thing themselves?

7. Save the Children says it: “identifies parents and caregivers as a strategic group for promoting gender equality and emphasises the importance of working with families to support more inclusive concepts of fatherhood and motherhood so that societies can accept fathers taking on the primary caregiver role for their children.”

So how is this campaign – which excludes fathers who are primary caregivers help people in the UK to “accept fathers taking on the primary caregiver role for their children”?

8. Save the Children says: “It believes it is time for governments to break the stereotypical model of working only with women on parenting. Working with men and young men on issues of fatherhood and parenting education is crucially important as well.”

If Save The Children thinks that Governments should do this – why is it only working with and advocating on behalf of mums on this parenting campaign?

9. Save The Children says: “It wants to influence the institutional culture within the organisation so that all employees are gender aware and put this into practice in all aspects of their work.”

We wonder how gender award Save The Children think this campaign is?

1o. Save The Children says that it wants to mainstream its strategy for gender equality so that it is not just seen as a women’s issue and so we wonder why it is presenting issues that affect mums and dads as bright, pink mums’ issues?

Save The Children do some great work and this particular campaign does seem to fall below its own high standards as outlined in its Gender Equality Strategy. Presenting  women as the only primary caregivers is not just sexist against the many caring  dads who look after their kids some or all of the time,  it also sexist against the many mums who don’t fit neatly into outdated gender stereotype of “primary caregiver”.

Budget decisions that impact families affect all the men, women, girls and boys living in those families – not just women and children as this campaign seems to suggest.


Glen Poole is UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, Director at the consultancy Helping Men and news editor of insideMAN magazine. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at

Posted in NEWS
2 comments on “Is Save The Children sexist against Dads?
  1. […] stereotyping abroad – running a UK parenting campaign that targets mums and excluded dads – click here for details. More positively we were pleased to see an article in The Guardian called “Boys and men must be […]

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