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Dad and baby

How we’re championing paternity leave

There are so many benefits of paternity leave, but lack of paid parental leave policies and restrictive social norms holds many dads back. Read on to learn how we’re working to combat these barriers.

Why paternity leave is important

Evidence shows that when paternity leave is available, the opportunity can improve every facet of life. 

Fathers who are close to their children are healthier and have happier marriages. This connection also unleashes the ‘father effect’, where children see a positive impact on their cognitive and social development1. Women’s career prospects improve when fathers take paternity leave. Improved paternity leave policies also positively impact society and economies.

Exhibit A: Sweden. It’s been estimated that each additional month of paid parental leave taken by the father increases the mother’s earnings by 6.7%2

When men have the opportunity to care for themselves and others, everyone benefits.

What’s the issue?

Even with these clear benefits of paternity leave – to men and their families – dads are facing barriers to take paternity leave around the world.

85% of dads say they would do anything to be very involved in caring for their new child1. But less than 50% of the countries in the world have a national paternity leave policy – including some of the biggest nations in the world, like the US1. And even if men have the option, less than 50% of the world’s dads take the paid parental leave available to them1.

Barriers vary for parental leave around the world, but can include:

  • A lack of statutory and employer policies
  • Low uptake due to lack of financial resources
  • A fear of negative impact on careers due to restrictive workplace culture 
  • Limiting gender stereotypes among families and in society


What are we doing?

We partnered with Promundo, a global NGO working to advance gender equality by engaging men and boys as partners. In 2019, we released our State of the World’s Fathers report; with new proprietary research. The research looks at the impact and benefits of paternity leave that employers, dads and their families, and society as a whole get when men are involved caregivers and have greater access to paid leave.

Among other stats, the report found:

  • 66% of men are bothered by negative portrayals of fathers in the media, often encouraging feelings of incompetence or apathy to care3
  • 43% of men admitted they felt they had missed important events in their child’s life due to work commitments1


It takes strong partnerships, like our work with Promundo, to drive real societal change. Together we co-convened the Parental Leave Corporate Task Force: Championing leave for dads and their families. The Task Force brings together leading representatives from global corporations and civil organizations to raise awareness of the benefits of paternity leave and create lasting change at scale. Other members include: Bank of America, Deloitte, Facebook, Twitter, Women Deliver, as well as UNICEF as a technical advisor. 

The members are working to develop a strategy that has the maximum possible impact. First on the agenda, the Task Force will work to increase the uptake of paternity leave for men among large companies who already have policies in place, as this is where it will initially have the greatest impact.

With greater provision and take up of paid parental leave for dads, we can help accelerate progress toward gender equality – the UN Sustainability Development Goal UN SDG 5 – and aid economic growth and development.


1 State of the World’s Fathers 2019, Promundo and Dove Men+Care

2 Johannson, E-A. (2010). The effect of own and spousal parental leave on earnings. Working Paper 2010:4. Uppsala, Sweden: Institute of Labour Market Policy Evaluation

3 The multi-country average reflects calculations that give equal weight to each respondent in each subcategory (i.e. men, women, fathers, mothers), regardless of country 

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