“Men need to be seen as fathers.”

Ending his speech in Myanmar to celebrate the growing cooperation between Sweden and Myanmar at the occasion of the National Day of Sweden, H.E. Staffan Herrström, Ambassador to Thailand, Lao PDR and Myanmar, offered a few personal reflections about a theme that is “close to [his] heart” – fatherhood, and the need for men to engage gender equality.

Men need to be seen as fathers, treated as fathers, identified as fathers, receive rights as fathers – and of course behave like fathers. Paid parental leave was made available for both fathers and mothers in Sweden in 1974. Later on 90 days out of 480 have been reserved for men – the three Daddy’s months. This has significantly contributed to gender equality.

A family stands in colorful cothing on a mountain together.
UNICEF//ShresthaDhan Bhadur Gurung, 32, stands on his crutches on a hilltop in Nepal alongside his family.

I used it as well. Two months with my eldest daughter. Almost one month with my youngest. It was too short, but it made a huge difference. Having the whole responsibility. No Karin, my wife, there to help me. There was nowhere to escape.

There is a perception – a stereotype – that parenthood is something that happens in women’s lives only, and that parenthood has practical consequences only for women’s lives. As a result, employers may have an expectation that women will be away from work more than men, which may affect their chances of employment and promotion. Stereotypes of this kind are in that way also directly related to the gender pay gap.

We need to change that. To change that leads to a better life also for us, the fathers, the men.

Men who stay at home with their kids for some time, take better care of themselves, drink less and have a more healthy life style.

And less domestic violence as well.  We men need to get the priorities right.

Honestly: How many men my age do you hear asking themselves why they didn’t work more when they were young – and how many are asking themselves why they didn’t spend more time with their children?

Men benefit from being fathers at home. Women benefit at work from men being fathers at home. And most important of all: Children benefit. They need us as well, the dads.

And this is shown through the (photo) exhibition outside. I encourage you all to have a close look.

So that is simply my message today: Let dads be dads.


Ambassador Herrström was also opening an accompanying photo exhibition on “Swedish Dads” in Myanmar as part of the celebration.


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  1. Families Need Fathers here in the UK could not agree more with the Ambassador. Sadly, whilst we do have the enlightened equalities legislation, our family justice system policies still apply the father=provider, mother = carer model regardless, causing literally millions of children to be deprived of a father in their lives. We have:
    • No equality of parental leave
    • No shared child-related benefits
    • 90% of children of separated parents living with just one parent – in 97% of instances the mother – over 40% with joint 50:50 care in Sweden
    • Financial incentives for parents to fight over the time spent with the children.
    • Financial incentives for claims (often unfounded) of domestic violence which is reported in more than half of cases.
    • A broken adversarial family justice system whereby conflicts are resolved in court unlike in Sweden where just 2% are settled in the courts.
    Ambassador, please tell our politicians about the benefits of your approach. We still have so much to learn.

  2. Interesting. Each society must find and construct its own answers to specific problems, and this in the face of relentless pressure for globalization and the acceleration of global capital flows.