Confessions of a CARE Dad

Confessions of a CARE Dad

Publication info

Balla Sidibe

Balla Sidibé, Country Director for CARE Côte d’Iviore, weighs in on his personal experiences managing workload and fatherhood.

How have you been able to balance your roles as father and Country Director? They are complementary.  It’s challenging to be a new CD. When I leave the office and go home, I can play with my children and do simple things outside of my normal work day.  I also have a nanny and when I travel, my mother or my mother-in-law comes to visit so that someone is with the children.

You and your wife made the decision together for your children to join you here while she remained in Mali for her job. In many contexts, the wife is expected to follow her husband? Have you experienced any negative reactions from your family and/or friends? There was no problem from my family because my mother and father did the same. My mother was a lawyer and my father let her continue her career. My wife’s family told her that she had to follow me and forget about her career; I told them she has a good career that cannot just be ended.  Of course, I have friends who tell me that my wife should join me — but my wife and I agreed. It was a decision and a commitment that we both made.  

How do you think your experience as a working father differs or is the same as the experiences of working mothers at CARE? I have come to appreciate my wife’s ability to balance her job and her role as a mother.  I value her efforts more now that I understand what they require. As a man, it is easy because society expects me to make decisions; so I can decide whether or not to respect social norms.  It’s not necessarily easy for a woman. There are similarities between my experience and women at CARE; like them, I have to adjust my agenda so I am able to attend school meetings and take my children to the doctor; all of this requires day‐to‐day planning.

As an ‘African’ man, how do you think, or hope, that your involvement in your children’s lives influences their understanding of gender roles? I have 2 daughters and a boy. I am sure that it empowers them mentally so that they don’t feel that they are not equal. When I was growing up, my sister was the one given the most consideration during family decisions because she was the eldest. To this day, she is the one who has all of my father’s documentation and land titles. Because of this, my sister has always been empowered. Maybe my father promoted this because his own mother worked as a nurse and because his father was educated. I think my involvement in my children’s lives will empower them. I hope that my son will be more egalitarian and able to accept diversity.