Plural Parenthood and the Complexities of Favelas in Brazil


Hatched by Thati

Feb 14, 2024

4 min read


Plural Parenthood and the Complexities of Favelas in Brazil


In Brazil, family is considered one of the most important values, with 93% of Brazilians holding this belief. However, traditional family structures are evolving, with the number of single-parent households on the rise. Surprisingly, more than half of Brazilian households are now headed by women, outnumbering those headed by couples. This shift in family dynamics has sparked discussions on gender equity and the role of fathers in parenting.

Changing Gender Roles and the Desire for Equitable Parenthood:

While the perception of the population still leans towards men being the primary financial providers for their children, there is a growing desire among men to break free from traditional ideals of masculinity and embrace a more present and affectionate form of fatherhood. However, many men hesitate to take advantage of parental leave benefits due to fears of job loss or being replaced. This fear is rooted in structural sexism, as many men still consider childcare responsibilities to be solely the mother's responsibility.

The Mental and Physical Burden on Mothers:

There is a general consensus among the population that mothers face greater physical and mental burden in raising children compared to fathers. This perception is reinforced by the societal norm that mothers are the primary caregivers. While 59% of the population believes that child-rearing is more natural for women, around 4 in 10 people observe equal sharing of parenting responsibilities between both parents. However, this imbalance still leads to a significant absence of fathers in the lives of nearly a quarter of Brazilians.

Absence of Fathers and its Impact:

Children from LGBTQIA+ families and those with lower levels of education report a higher absence of fathers. Shockingly, there are approximately 5.5 million children in Brazil who do not have their father's name registered. On average, almost 500 children are born each day without their father's name on the birth certificate. This absence of fathers has a profound impact on the lives of these children, as they miss out on essential emotional and financial support.

Fragile Masculinity and Parenthood:

Masculinity, typically associated with strength and vigor, often reveals its fragility when examining the disparities faced by men. Men are more exposed to violence, addiction, and premature death, resulting in a life expectancy six years lower than that of women. However, there is a growing acceptance that same-sex couples, including those formed by two men, can care for children just as well as heterosexual couples.

The Rise of Transgender Parenthood:

In the past decade, there has been a noticeable increase in news stories about transgender men becoming pregnant, often within relationships with transgender women who serve as the mothers of these children. The first transgender man to give birth was in the United States in 2009. This phenomenon challenges traditional notions of gender and parenthood, highlighting the diversity of modern family structures.

The Complexity of Favelas:

Shifting our focus to the complexities of favelas in Brazil, we find that the four largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro are Rocinha, Jacarezinho, Nova Brasília, and Vila do Vintém. However, when considering favela complexes, the ranking changes, with Complexo da Maré, Complexo do Alemão, Rocinha, and Jacarezinho emerging as the largest favela areas in the city. These favelas are characterized by high-density populations, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to essential services.

Connecting Plural Parenthood and Favela Complexities:

While seemingly unrelated, the discussions on plural parenthood and the complexities of favelas intersect in several ways. Both highlight the need for societal recognition and acceptance of diverse family structures. Plural parenthood challenges traditional gender roles and encourages a more equitable distribution of parental responsibilities. Similarly, the complexities of favelas shed light on the social and economic disparities faced by marginalized communities, including single-parent households.


It is crucial to foster an inclusive society that recognizes and supports all forms of parenting, regardless of gender or family structure. To achieve this, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Promote gender equity within families by encouraging fathers to take an active role in parenting and sharing the responsibilities of childcare.
  • 2. Implement policies that ensure equal access to parental leave benefits for all parents, regardless of gender, to alleviate concerns about job security and encourage paternal involvement.
  • 3. Invest in the improvement of living conditions and infrastructure in favelas to provide better support systems for families and reduce the social and economic disparities faced by these communities.

By embracing plural parenthood and addressing the challenges faced by favela residents, we can create a more inclusive and supportive society that values and respects all forms of family.

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