The Changing Face of Indonesian Dads

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The Changing Face of Indonesian Dads

With an Islamic majority of around 90%, Islamic teachings and practices are ingrained culturally in the population. The concept of ‘Kodrat wanita' (nature of woman) still holds very strong - whereby a woman's role is viewed as ‘biologically determined' to be the primary caregiver in the family. In some cases, the woman able to work but usually only in the sense to contribute and not become the main source of income to the family as long as it is still considered within Islamic Law boundaries (e.g. being modest, still respect husband as head of family).

However, due to outside influences; greater mobility, increased individuality, media and digital, these cultural factors are beginning to shift.

  • Social change - The emergence of some women as the family breadwinner

Increased education and workplace participation for women has brought heightened self-actualisation, financial independence, security and control. Whereas previously a woman's income was only seen as complementary, now it has larger contribution to the main family income.

Women who are highly successful in their job can also lead to the emergence of "Alpha Wife" phenomenon, where the wife earns higher income than the husband and becomes the main breadwinner; however, this is not yet common in Indonesia and seems that it happens more in lower income society (13-15%) compared to higher income society (6 - 8%). Nonetheless, working Indonesian women are still also expected to fulfill their traditional role of being a mother and wife. Indonesian gender roles remain deeply rooted and women continue to hold primary responsibility in the domestic domain.

  • Social change - Dads increase participation in parenting

There is an increased interest in dads spending time with kids, actively participating in child raising. Men are starting to take on key activities, starting to design their work situations in order to ensure sufficient time with kids.

Indonesian dads have started to open up in sharing their enjoyment of doing more domestic tasks traditionally assigned to women - e.g. taking care of kids, doing household chores. They especially find benefits in having closer bond with their children and more involved in their lives. This is also starting to be portrayed in advertising and popular media (TV, YouTube, Sitcoms).

There is some emergence of stay at home dads, but despite not having the traditional "9-to-5, 5-days a week job", they still contribute to the household earning.