The Church and the
First Thousand Days

The role of faith communities in encouraging engaged fatherhood during pregnancy and the first two years.

We know that when fathers are involved during the First Thousand Days (FTD) of their children’s lives, there’s an increase in mother’s mental health and well-being, and the bonds formed between dad and baby lead to long higher academic achievement, increased confidence and healthy conceptions of masculinity.*

But real and pervasive barriers are in place that hinder or restrict father’s involvement, some of which are long-held beliefs and expectations of men’s role in parenting. *It is estimated that for every 8 hours of unpaid care work done by a woman in South Africa, only one hour is done by a man.**

And – there are an estimated 43000 churches in South Africa, in which there are millions of fathers, father-figures and fathers-to be.

Sikunye is bringing together experts in the fields of the First Thousand Days, fatherhood and the church to explore the unique role that churches have in encouraging fatherhood engagement – especially in the First Thousand Days of their child’s life. These three 60 min sessions are intended to stir conversation, share opportunities and give practical handles on what churches – including leaders and members – can be doing to support and encourage fatherhood engagement.

*Source: theconversation.com
**Source: page 8. State of South Africa’s Fathers report

Why Fathers Matter

13 May | 15:00

Fathers play an important role in the wellbeing of baby and mother. This webinar explores the unique window of time that is the First Thousand Days of a child’s life, the benefit of father engagement during this time and the opportunity that the church has in encouraging fatherhood engagement.

  • What is the First Thousand Days? Why is it so important? Dr Hilary Goeiman, Western Cape Department of Health
  • The state of fatherhood in South Africa. Dr Tawanda Makusha, Human Science Research Council
  • The benefit of father engagement, with a focus on the First Thousand Days. Professor Mark Tomlinson, University of Stellenbosch
  • The opportunity that the church has to reach fathers.
    Dr Deborah Hancox, International Coordinator of Micah Global, whose PhD thesis explored the role of local congregations in addressing issues of justice.

This event was recorded and is on our YouTube channel.

Barriers to Engaged Fatherhood

27 May | 15:00

The state of fatherhood in South Africa does not exist in a vacuum. Real and pervasive factors are at play that hinder the participation, presence and engagement of fathers and father-figures. This session explores these barriers and what local congregations can say to address some of them.

  • What does positive fathering look like? Terence Mentor, aka Afrodaddy
  • Barriers for father engagement and involvement in the First Thousand Days. Dr Linda Richter, Distinguished professor, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development.
  • A Biblical understanding of fatherhood. Terran Williams, aka Dad Dude
  • Helpful and harmful messaging for fathers within a church context. Olefile Masangane, Heartlines

This event was recorded and is on our YouTube channel.

What Churches
Can Do

10 June | 15:00

Intentions alone will not bring about change. This session is focusing on the practical actions and programmes that churches can action to encourage father involvement and engagement.

A panel discussion on various fatherhood programmes – what is working, what the challenges are, and what can be done to draw men together to encourage their participation as fathers. Including The World Needs a Father, Heartlines, and The Parent Centre.

This event was recorded and is on our YouTube channel.