What you need to know:
- I believe in gender equity with a bias to women and girls - and for good reason.
- I also believe in raising men who can embrace empowered women.
- As aunties and mothers intentionally guide their daughters, boys too, need that care from dads and uncles.
I am a mother of two adult sons whom I have singlehandedly brought up after their father died 17 years ago.
One challenge I faced bringing them up was how to help them develop ‘male-positive’ attitudes. I am aware of the challenges boys face at the hands of tradition, their peers and the society. Pressure to ‘man up’, to be strong, to lead and to win.
They say boys who grow up without fathers are at greater risk of substance abuse and challenges such as poor performance in school. I am grateful to God neither has befallen my sons.
I write this at a time when the debate on whether the boy child is neglected or not is alive.
I believe in gender equity with a bias to women and girls - and for good reason. The female gender has experienced historical injustices over the years, leading to the growing attention they have been receiving over time.
I also believe in raising men who can embrace empowered women. Unfortunately, over the years, our gender relationships have evolved into a supremacy battle with some men assuming that an empowered woman is his downfall, while women fight any attempts to need a man’s support.
Rounded boy child
We must acknowledge that we can’t have a holistic girl child without a rounded boy child.
The thorn in the flesh is the ‘neglected boy child’. Indeed there is an increase of young boys engaging in illicit activities. At the same time, women still seek equality in terms of education, pay, job opportunities and political representation, among others, to date.
Over the years, women lobbies have worked towards advancing the girl child’s empowerment. Sadly, as this happened, men took a back seat. The boy child was left to fend for himself, turning to his peers for life lessons, as a result, he ended up with no proper guidance and made many mistakes.
Whose responsibility is it to empower the boy child? Men need to step up to the plate. How often do they tell their sons ‘I love you’, for instance? How often do they validate them?
The fact is that many fathers shirk their responsibilities towards their children. Though a mother can teach her children to be responsible and instil good character in them, a boy needs to see his father handle ‘manly’ responsibilities to become a responsible man himself.
Men must create a support system for the boy child to be able to deal with the pressure of being a man. The boy child needs to be prepared for the future reality of women's place in the world. Today’s world is totally different from that of our grandparents. What will it mean to be a man in another 20 years?
As a girl grows up, her mother, aunties, elderly women, and peers, counsel her, equipping her with knowledge about life and how to handle it, however, less or no attention is paid to the boy child, who grows up struggling on his own, becoming a ‘hustler’ as he trys to figure out life. As aunties and mothers intentionally guide their daughters, boys too, need that care from dads and uncles.
All children face almost similar challenges today; so, leaving out the boy child creates an imbalance and unfairness.
This week, we had a chat with Dorcas Rigathi, who tells us why she is so passionate about boy child empowerment.