Goal 5: Gender Equality

SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Browse books and journal articles relating to this SDG below and find out more on the UN Sustainable Development Goals website.
 

Goal 5: Gender Equality

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This chapter explores the changing identities and practices of the young men as they attempt to prepare for parenthood. How this transition is triggered – the extent to which young men exercise their sexual and reproductive agency – is a key focus of discussion. The implications of the findings for the development of Relationship and Sex Education provision is explored here, not least for those young men who fathered more than one child over the course of the study. The chapter considers how far the ethos of engaged fatherhood (introduced in Chapter 1) shapes the aspirations and practices of these young men. It reveals their ambivalence about their new status: the pregnancies were generally unplanned and came as a shock, in some cases, leading to mental health problems. Nevertheless, the young men developed a strong desire to ‘be there’ for their children. A range of factors enabled or constrained them in fulfilling this aspiration. Relational, behavioural and safeguarding barriers led some poorly resourced young fathers to lose contact with their children over time. However other young men, particularly those who were well resourced, found ways to sustain an engagement with their children over time.

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This chapter focuses on the nature and quality of the young men’s relationships with the mothers of their children. Tracing the relationship journeys of these young men, it explores the extent to which they were able to forge workable co-parenting relationships with the mothers, as the basis for maintaining a relationship with their children. The different experiences of young men who are partnered or single, or living with or apart from their children are highlighted here, along with the barriers to co-parenting, including cases where contact is curtailed by the mothers. The quality of co-parenting relationships emerges as a key issue, with implications for the provision of family support and relationship education services. New insights are presented on shifts in gendered patterns of parenthood over time, and how tensions may arise between the ethos of engaged fatherhood and the enduring notion of a mother/child dyad. The latter is based on a deeply ingrained notion that mothers are the primary carers of their children, with the right to determine how a child will be raised and by whom.

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Understanding the Parenting Journeys and Support Needs of Young Fathers
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Around 1 in 10 children born in the UK are fathered by men under the age of 25. These men are often from socially disadvantaged areas and frequently overlooked in both research and practice settings. Using findings from a major Economic and Social Research Council study, supplemented with additional data, the authors focus on the transitions of the young men into early parenthood and their unfolding lives thereafter.

As negative popular and media discourse around young fathers begins to shift, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and students will find future policy and practice directions designed to nurture the potential of these young men and their children.

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This chapter focuses on the value of participatory research approaches in facilitating the social engagement of young fathers. It draws on the Responding to Young Dads impact initiative (2016–17), a collaborative participatory initiative that sought to effect change within the existing support system in response to key findings from the Following Young Fathers study. Two interventions are elaborated: a new support pathway for young fathers leaving the criminal justice system and the co-creation of the Young Dads Collective North, which was developed with and for young fathers and the professionals who champion them.

Capturing the unfolding impacts of both projects in real time, we demonstrate the capacity of qualitative longitudinal research to facilitate ongoing impacts through the translation of practice-informed research into evidence-based practice. The case studies show how a new social engagement framework can be promoted through collaborative work as a direct challenge to the social problems discourse. These case studies demonstrate young fathers’ capacity to engage with and influence practitioners and the future potential for partnership working among researchers, professionals and communities in promoting a more coherent ethos of support and redemption across a range of services.

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This chapter focuses on the value of participatory research approaches in facilitating the social engagement of young fathers. It draws on the Responding to Young Dads impact initiative (2016–17), a collaborative participatory initiative that sought to effect change within the existing support system in response to key findings from the Following Young Fathers study. Two interventions are elaborated: a new support pathway for young fathers leaving the criminal justice system and the co-creation of the Young Dads Collective North, which was developed with and for young fathers and the professionals who champion them.

Capturing the unfolding impacts of both projects in real time, we demonstrate the capacity of qualitative longitudinal research to facilitate ongoing impacts through the translation of practice-informed research into evidence-based practice. The case studies show how a new social engagement framework can be promoted through collaborative work as a direct challenge to the social problems discourse. These case studies demonstrate young fathers’ capacity to engage with and influence practitioners and the future potential for partnership working among researchers, professionals and communities in promoting a more coherent ethos of support and redemption across a range of services.

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This chapter traces the varied housing pathways of young fathers in the context of shifting housing, welfare and policy processes in the UK. Dynamic research that focuses on the housing trajectories of young fathers is rare, while housing is seldom explored in research about young people’s transitions to parenthood and beyond. Yet, housing has a fundamental impact on the ability of young fathers to establish their parental role and identity and is a major aspect of the political and economic exosystem that influences the parenting journeys and experiences of young fathers. A detailed longitudinal and comparative analysis of the young fathers’ accounts of their changing living arrangements over time reveals ‘yo-yo’ housing trajectories characterised by fluctuating states of independence from/dependence on their families, on provisions by the state, and/or on formal support agencies, to secure what is otherwise considered a foundational resource for adulthood and parenthood.

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This book presents new insights into the unfolding lives of young fathers (those who enter parenthood before the age of 25). It draws on dynamic data from a qualitative longitudinal study (Following Young Fathers, 2010–15), and associated projects, that traced the lives of a mixed sample of young men from a Northern industrial city in the UK through the early years of fatherhood. Part I (Young fatherhood: contemporary knowledge and debate) reviews how young fatherhood is constituted, drawing on international research evidence and UK policy responses. It reveals how young fathers (and young parents more generally) are viewed as a social problem; the related deficit model of understanding, that assumes that they are feckless and run away from their responsibilities; and an alternative social engagement framework, which shows a commitment among many young men to ‘be there’ for their children. The qualitative longitudinal methodology adopted for this research offers unique insights into the complex causal pathways that shape the varied experiences of these young men. The empirical chapters (Part II, Living young fatherhood: changing identities, relationships and practices) explore how young men attempt to establish a parental role and identity, and the relational, socio-economic and environmental factors that impact on this process. Part III (Supporting young fathers: lived experiences and policy challenges) explores and reshapes the landscape of professional support for young fathers. The final chapter brings the findings together, examines the citizenship of young fathers, and makes the case for compassionate social policies that can more effectively support them and their families.

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This chapter presents an integrated review of existing social research and demographic evidence on the lives and support needs of young fathers, drawing on a growing international body of studies. It reveals a fragmented range of qualitative studies, and a paucity of dynamic evidence that traces these lives through time. The discussion explores how orthodox construction of young fatherhood (and young parenthood more generally) as a social problem has fed into and shaped the findings of earlier studies. It also highlights a more recent counter-narrative (a social engagement framework), based on qualitative investigations into the lived experiences of young fatherhood, that reveals the efforts of young men to be there for their children. Overall, the chapter reveals gaps in the existing evidence base and raises new dynamic questions that the Following Young Fathers study seeks to address.

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This book presents new insights into the unfolding lives of young fathers (those who enter parenthood before the age of 25). It draws on dynamic data from a qualitative longitudinal study (Following Young Fathers, 2010–15), and associated projects, that traced the lives of a mixed sample of young men from a Northern industrial city in the UK through the early years of fatherhood. Part I (Young fatherhood: contemporary knowledge and debate) reviews how young fatherhood is constituted, drawing on international research evidence and UK policy responses. It reveals how young fathers (and young parents more generally) are viewed as a social problem; the related deficit model of understanding, that assumes that they are feckless and run away from their responsibilities; and an alternative social engagement framework, which shows a commitment among many young men to ‘be there’ for their children. The qualitative longitudinal methodology adopted for this research offers unique insights into the complex causal pathways that shape the varied experiences of these young men. The empirical chapters (Part II, Living young fatherhood: changing identities, relationships and practices) explore how young men attempt to establish a parental role and identity, and the relational, socio-economic and environmental factors that impact on this process. Part III (Supporting young fathers: lived experiences and policy challenges) explores and reshapes the landscape of professional support for young fathers. The final chapter brings the findings together, examines the citizenship of young fathers, and makes the case for compassionate social policies that can more effectively support them and their families.

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This chapter traces policy developments and popular discourses on young fatherhood since the 1990s. The main focus is on the UK policy context, with particular reference to New Labour’s ten-year Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (TPS), and more recent responses under the Coalition and Conservative governments. The discussion shows how the idea of young parenthood as a social problem has taken root in policy circles and in the popular imagination. This has fostered pejorative views of young fathers as ‘feckless’ and ‘hard to reach’ and led to their marginalisation in mainstream policy and professional practice. The chapter also traces policies in relation to disadvantaged young people and their families. More focused policy domains that impact on young fathers are briefly flagged up here and discussed in later chapters of the book: Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) provision; welfare support; education, employment and housing policies; and specialist support services for young parents.

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