PhD graduate in Gender studies, Mr Tawanda Makusha, researched the different dimensions of a father’s involvement in bringing up children.
Makusha interviewed women, men and children on the role of fathers in children’s lives and focused on the different factors that affect father involvement in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to his research, more than two thirds of black fathers in South Africa are absent in households where their children are living.
He pointed out that fathers were an important part of families and society at large and children and women needed fathers to be present and involved in their lives.
Makusha established the various factors that affected fatherhood in South Africa, focusing on both resident and non-resident fathers.
Makusha’s research topic stemmed from a personal experience. ‘I grew up in a family where my parents were separated. My father was very involved financially but because we did not live with him we did not have that father-child emotional engagement.
‘I decided I needed to conduct a study on fatherhood to explore the father-child relationships and come up with positive recommendations that promote father-child involvement beyond financial support even when fathers are non-resident in the household.’
His research results showed men’s involvement with children was important even if the man was not the biological father and not living with his children. The quality of men’s involvement with children was found to be strongly influenced by their financial capacity to provide for children and to marry, and by mother-father couple relationship.
However, he also found that even when men could not provide for their children because of unemployment, most remained involved in their children’s lives.
His thesis further argues that understanding local determinants of father-child involvement is crucial for improving family policies to support men’s involvement in children’s well-being.
Makusha thanked his supervisors, Professor Deevia Bhana and Professor Linda Richter for their insightful support, patience and guidance.
Makusha, who currently works as a Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council, hopes to engage more with Government, academics, civil society and other interested parties on how to make more men involved in their children’s lives.
He also plans to continue contributing to literature on fatherhood in South Africa. ‘I feel a lot still needs to be done on policy to promote involved fatherhood in South Africa.
‘Personally, I am a father of a beautiful young daughter, Tadiwa, and I want to be involved and engaged in her life for as long as possible.’