Iceland creates new Fathers day at National Conference

27 November 2006

The Responsible fathers associstion in Iceland were founded 10th of sept 1997. The organisation’s website is www.abyrgirfedur.is. This organization has mainly focused on the rights of separtated fathers in Iceland, with about 600 members. The total population in Iceland is only about 300 000 people.

In the country mothers day has been celebrated on the second Sunday in May for many years, but never a fathers day. The social minister in Iceland decided with approval from the goverment that the second Sunday in November should be fathers day in Iceland from this year onwards. The first fathers day were held on 12th of November 2006. To celebrate the day, The Responsible fathers organzatiion held conferance at the Nordica Hotel in Reykjavik. The theme of the conferance were, “Role of fahters in the modern society”. The speakers were

a) Magnus Stefansson, social minister of Iceland. Talked about father day in Iceland and worldwide.

b) Gisli Gislason, foreman of The Responsible fathers organization in Iceland, talked about the situation of fathers in Iceland.

c) Dr. Sigrun Juliusdottir from the University of Iceland talked about divorced parents and their children.

d) Tom Beardshaw from Fathers Direct in UK talked about politics of fatherhood, challenges and opportunities.

The Guest of Honour at the conference was Ms Vigdís Finnbogadottir, former President of Icleand, and the first female president in the world elected in democratic elections. At the end of the conference she said few words, and supported equal parenting. She said, “each child should have the right to be looked after by both mum and dad and we should not forget that a hug from dad is just as important to a child as a hug from the mother

About 100 people attended, including men and women, children and elderly people, and MPs from the Icelandic parliament. Iceland has a well developed maternity/paternity leave system, where fathers have 3 months, mothers 3 months and then they decide who get the last 3 months. It is a system that will undoubtably encourage shared parenting. Over 80% of fathers in Iceland utilize their rights for 3 months of paternity leave. Joint custody is a default rule when parents divorce, however this has weak legal status as most of the parents rights and responsibility follow the legal address of the child. The divorce law will inevitably be under preassure to improve the joint custody rule to joint physical custody. This because, both parent are so much involved in the caring of children when parents live together.

Overall the conferance was well received. The responsible fathers organization said in their news release that they hoped that this day and the future Fathers day in Iceland will be a day where the nation would focus on fathers role in the society. The organization encourages all fathers in Iceland to spent that day with their children as it is the children who give them the entitlement to be a dad.”

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