The other day I attended a function at my son’s school, the teacher leading the ceremony made a comment that went like this
“everybody is fighting for the rights of the girl child, all focus and emphasis are on her, mean while the boy child is marginalized and left to find his way in a society that is increasingly polarized by a culture that expects him to take his place as a man in this world!
How true I thought thinking of our group Nenkashe Education Centre (NEC) whose main focus is on the girl child, empowering her through education and life skills that will enable her chart out her own destiny. Many times I have been asked why we choose to focus on the girl child while the boy child needs and craves attention just as much. This question has elicited conflicting sentiments within me from feeling judged, irritated, to outright indignation. Often times I have restrained myself from reacting in a negative way and instead choose to engage in a sober and constructive manner on why I feel that the men in today’s society have to step up and take their place when it comes to the subject of the boy child.
Majority of NGO’s, CBO’s , Pressure groups and self help groups are initiated and run by women who have taken it upon themselves to promote the human rights of the girl child in all areas and stages of her life in order to achieve her full potential and use it to betterment of herself, her community and society as a whole. Successful women in our society have pioneered organizations and interest groups dedicated to the advancement of the girls. Such groups include Akili dada, Eve sisters, Zawadi Africa, Massai Girls Education Fund, The Tara Project , A book For Change to name a few.Women who have been through adversity and eventually made it have gone back to their respective school and communities to encourage and mentor girls who are going through the very same challenges that they went through!
Unfortunately this has not been the case with the boy child! Rarely do we see organizations that are exclusively dedicated to mentor and uplift the boy child. Much is expected from him right from birth. A son will carry on the family name, he will inherit the property, and he will eventually take charge of the homestead once the father passes on. There are enough role models in every facet of society ranging from the co operate world, government, political and religious arena, this is evident world wide as men continue to occupy positions of leadership and influence. What a tremendous difference it would make if men formed organizations that would engage in mentor-ship, counselling and guidance programmes that would follow the boy from primary and high school, to college and university and beyond. They NEED to be acknowledged and their fears and vulnerabilities addressed just as the girl child’s issues are managed and what better way than a present male figure to guide him through challenges that he will experience in every phase and period of his life.
All children are equal and deserve equal opportunities in life. The boy is subjected to the same concerns as the girl these include sexual abuse/harassment, physical abuse, poverty, neglect and so on. Intercession at the earliest stage is absolutely crucial in order to uplift the boy child and prepare him for a fast changing world that recognizes and rewards individuals based on their abilities and not their gender! Men take your place and stand in the gap NOW before it is too late for our boys!