Education top issue for 'Fathers Day,' groups say

Awakening Foundation Chairman Fan Yun, second from right, invites fathers who stay home to take care of children to talk about their experiences at a

Women's rights groups called on the government yesterday to promote a "Father and Children's Day" so fathers could also share in the education of their children.
The Awakening Foundation said on the occasion of today's Father's Day celebrations that the government should intervene to reverse the traditional roles of the father working outside to make money, and the mother staying at home to take care of the children.
"The government should make fathers experience that raising children is a responsibility, but even more a kind of happiness," said foundation chairwoman Fan Yun.
Under a law introduced in 2002, men and women can both apply for a two-year leave to take care of their children, but government statistics show that only four percent of those using that law are men, Fan said. From 2002 until now, a total of 23,823 people applied for the leave, but only 996 of those were men, she said.
Taiwan could learn from Sweden in this respect, said Su Chien-ling, chairwoman of the Taiwan Gender Equality Education Foundation. When only four percent of participants in the leave for parents were men, the government decided to force fathers to take at least one month off, Su said. Later that period was extended to two months, and the result was that fathers' participation rate rose to 45 percent, she said.
"The Swedish government believes that forcing fathers to stay at home with their children makes society even more harmonious," Su said.
Biggest investment
A father who was taking a one-year leave from his job at the Taipei Zoo said the time he spent with his children had been the biggest investment in his own life.
Liu Chia-yao said he needed at least half a year before finding the courage to announce he was staying at home to take care of his son and daughter. He said he had originally saved money to spend on overseas studies, but instead he used it on his children. "I have discovered that I have grown a lot myself too in that time," Liu said.
The Awakening Foundation's Fan said the government should allocate a larger budget to allow both fathers and mothers to leave work for a while without having to worry whether their job will still be there when they want to return.
"The role of a father is not about making money, so don't force him to be absent from his child growing up," Fan said.