Fostering Co-Parenting to fight against Gender-Bias violence

Fostering Co-Parenting to fight against Gender-Bias violence

The 4E (Early, Equal, Engaged, Empathetic) PARENT project aims to promote involved and engaged fatherhood, and a redefinition of masculinity as a means of primary prevention against gender-based violence on women.


 Fostering a renewed fatherhood

4E-Parent is a project initiated in January 2023 and funded by the European Commission’s Justice Programme, with the aim of promoting a renewed fatherhood. The four “E”s summarise the project’s premises:

  • Early, for fathers’ participation from birth.
  • Equal, to indicate a parity approach.
  • Engaged, to recall active participation.
  • Empathetic, to highlight empathetic, caring, and responsive means.

According to scientific literature, the father’s practical and empathetic involvement in parenting from the earliest stages has several benefits. It enhances the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children from birth, strengthens the emotional bond between fathers and children, boosts the psycho-physical health of both offspring and mother, promotes gender equality, and aids in countering domestic violence. Moreover, having a more informed, aware, and engaged partner is a great benefit for women: to share responsibilities and caregiving and domestic work; to reconcile work, family, and leisure time with less stress; for more balanced and richer family relationships.

4E-PARENT follows in the footsteps of the previous European project, PARENT, which concluded in 2021 and involved partners from Italy, Portugal, Austria, and Lithuania. The strength of the original project lay in its multidimensional approach, aligned with the global fatherhood MenCare campaign to promote the awareness and responsibility of fathers as an essential method for addressing various current issues: the balanced growth of the child; the health and wellbeing of the man, woman, couple, and children; gender equality and shared caregiving; the prevention of gender violence.

4E-PARENT continues to adopt this approach, which has proven to be a powerful tool for building alliances and synergies around a common goal among different sectors, institutions, professions, and groups of activists and civil society organisations.

The new edition of the project has a distinctly Italian flavour, due to the fact that to help modify attitudes, habits, stereotypes, and social systems, the intervention must be well calibrated to the national reality and its symbolic and cultural value system.


Driving change: the role of the fathers in defining new concept of masculinity

The project identifies future fathers/parents and fathers/parents of children aged 0-6 as the ultimate beneficiaries, with a specific focus on the first thousand days, a critical period to involve fathers in equal, shared, proactive, and empathetic parenthood. Since the main goal of the project is the prevention of gender-based violence, mostly perpetrated by the male gender, and since men are in turn victims of gender stereotypes that need to be deconstructed and redefined, attention is specifically directed towards fathers as protagonists in transforming masculinities. Indeed, to achieve gender equality, it is vital that the narratives of parenthood are redefined in an equal and shared sense, to build generations on different representative models.


The charted path charted for Co-Parenting

In this context, the specific objectives of the project are:

  1. to build the capacity of professionals to engage fathers
  2. to create a political and working framework favourable for a non-violent, egalitarian, timely, and proactive environment
  3. to contribute to raising awareness, modifying cultural norms and stereotypes that reinforce inequalities in family care and the risk of gender violence
  4. to promote policy change and knowledge exchange both at a European and national level

Among the planned interventions, there is a significant training offer aimed at health and education staff, advocacy activities (in Italy and in Europe) to encourage father involvement and care sharing by changing policies in both the public and corporate welfare sectors, and substantial communication work on gender stereotypes to contribute to cultural change and knowledge sharing



The project sees the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) as the coordinator and involves several partners, in addition to Deep Blue:

4E-Parent is also supported by the Italian Committee for UNICEF, the Associazione Culturale Pediatri (ACP), and the Istituto Ricerca Intervento Salute (IRIS).

A Consortium that embraces with experience and dedication the necessary skills to root a work of potentially significant impact in combating gender-based violence.


Deep Blue’s role in the project

Deep Blue will actively participate in the project management, supporting both the ISS in coordination and the working groups in delivering the project outcomes. Our team will contribute its wealth of knowledge and experience in the fields of psychology and sociology to develop and assess the impact of training courses aimed at health and social care staff. “Our experience in providing consultancy to paediatric medicine professionals has taught us that analysing risks associated with gender stereotypes, non-violent communication, and preventing dangerous behaviours are topics that we need to prioritise in training healthcare staff,” says Paola Tomasello, Psychotherapist and Lead Consultant at Deep Blue.

“With 4E Parent, we have the opportunity to continue our activities supporting the prevention of gender-based violence and promoting the health and safety of children, adults, and adolescents, in line with Goal 5 of the United Nations 2030 agenda.”

Moreover, we will support the direction of the Advocacy actions and Communication and Dissemination of the project through Social Network Analysis. This will allow us to reconstruct, deduce, and analyse the narrative – both representative and self-representative – surrounding the figure of the father, both in Italy and Europe. It will also enable us to better understand what risks it conveys and how to intervene in its positive deconstruction and redefinition in a parity key. Social media, indeed, provide an immediate reflection of the narratives and self-representations of genders, built around social expectations and conventions.

“Gender storytelling has the power to continually solidify stereotypes that significantly tie expectations to certain roles and attitudes. It is through these that we interpret the world and construct ourselves. Working on gender equality must start by redefining our primary reference models: namely, mum and dad. Indeed, what we learn as children about social roles is filtered through their behaviour, which sets an example for us. This is precisely the key to intergenerational change regarding gender expectations, intervening on models, or on the way of being (co)parents. Social media in this regard is a driving force for change that we are observing and will observe in 4E-Parent,” states Mara Marzella, consultant at Deep Blue and Social Media Analyst in the project.


The initial results will be available from July 2023 and will be made accessible on our official channels.”

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