The White House Office of Public Engagement and Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships honors 10 individuals who are doing tremendous work in the fields of fatherhood and low-income men and boys. Because of her work in this field Dr. Stacey Bouchet is being recognized as a Champion of Change.
Women In Fatherhood, Inc. (WIFI) is a social justice organization working to break down structural and relational barriers preventing fathers and men from positively contributing to families and communities. Our unique contribution is that we do this from the perspective of women.
Research, including WIFI’s qualitative research with women in diverse communities across the country, dispels many fallacies and shows that:
- Most fathers – regardless of demographics or circumstance – want to play a positive role in the lives of their children, and do so when they have the supports and resources they need.
- Most mothers want fathers involved in their children’s lives, even if the parents are no longer romantically involved, because they realize fathers matter.
- Virtually all parents want what is best for their children.
The women we engage overwhelmingly express the need for fathers to be involved emotionally and physically in the lives of children, not just financially. We recognize any woman (or man) who is raising a child alone shoulders an incredible responsibility. Some of these women are overwhelmed; some express anger and frustration toward individual men. Most express anxiety about the future of their children and their communities in the absence of positive father and male involvement. All of these voices and concerns have become the platform for WIFI’s work.
Our goal is to engage more women and women’s groups around issues facing low-income men and fathers. Women’s voices help ensure positive male involvement in the lives of children. And men, women and children benefit -- respectively and collectively-- when we work together. Mothers and children stand to benefit when fathers are actively engaged in the material and social support of their children. To that end, Women In Fatherhood aims to serve as a bridge between policies, programs, and ideologies that have often appeared to be at odds.
WIFI is launching its first media campaign, "He Matters," on Father’s Day to raise awareness of the importance of low-income, minority fathers. We believe this will encourage others, especially women, to show the men and fathers in our lives and communities they are valued and a needed resource for women and children. We are developing ways to build common ground between parents who are no longer romantically involved that keep fathers connected to their families, validate women’s experiences, and keep children at the center of our hearts, families, and communities.
To be sure, the purpose of our work is about a focus on fathers and mothers and children that we believe is an essential component of all family strengthening efforts. Precisely because we are women, our voices provide an opportunity for the responsible fatherhood field to continue its growth, effectiveness, and sustainability, further ensuring that the complex needs of disadvantaged children, families, and communities are met.
Dr. Stacey Bouchet is the Co-Director of Women In Fatherhood.
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