The innocent Boy-child has be neglected and marginalized since the Beijing Conference in September 1995. It is about time we showed concern for the Boy-child too and it starts with an honest discussion about life stages and identity of the boy-child.
The world over, since the Beijing Conference in September 1995 (the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace), it is common to see various feminists, mentorship, guidance and advocacy groups and programmes in various schools, churches and communities for young girls, but there hardly is any such groups or programmes for young boys. And this is disturbing and alarming.
Empowering one gender must never be synonymous with stifling the other. We must realize that we need functional men and women to have a functional society.
Everyone is fighting for the girl-child today because of the great disservice our fore-fathers did girls by relegating and reducing them to the kitchen and the bedroom only, and focusing on boys for higher education and vocation learning.
Our society is in shambles today because of that one-sided attention.
Twenty-three solid years after that conference, we are continuously busy repeating a similar mistake focusing all attention on girls only. Centering all attention on ONLY the girl-child today will make our great grandchildren have to fight extremely harder to repair the damage done the boy-child.
Every child is just an innocent child whether boy or girl, and is equally vulnerable and prone to harm, abuse, waywardness, etcetera, and therefore need care, protection, attention, mentorship, motivation and guidance in education and all aspects of life. All children need equal opportunities and level playing field in education, vocation, and whatever a society and nation have to offer.
Studies show that neglected boys pose more threat and danger to society than girls in same category.
Girls are more vulnerable due to the nature of the female gender, but boys are also vulnerable.
As early as in primary school, teachers gather girls to speak to them about puberty, the changes it brings to their bodies and what girls are to do and what not, and other general issues associated with girls and womanhood.
This is because people believe that a girl-child needs someone to walk with through the issues of adolescence, and the fallacy that the boy-child is an impediment, if not an enemy of a girl’s success.
It is not fair that right from primary school teachers assume that the boy-child knows his way and does not need direction. If anything, he is the aggressor or oppressor.
This begun from our homes and spiraled into churches, mosques, schools, and communities where boys have no model on how to transition into men but are expected to grow into responsible, well-behaved men. Afterall, a man is supposed to be stoic, strong and forbearing.
In recent times, there have been many cases of young boys suffering sodomy and abuse of all forms. Also, girls being raped and molested, being impregnated at tender age, etcetera, are things we hear off frequently.
So, in a nutshell, young Girls and young Boys alike are vulnerable, prone to abuse way-wardness and harm. They are all just innocent and vulnerable children.
The Oxford Living Dictionary defines a child as an immature (innocent) or irresponsible person.
Therefore, so long as an individual remains a Child, that child whether boy or girl, must be Protected, Cared for, Given attention, and Shown affection.
We all agree that there was a lapse in our society due to our fore-fathers neglect of girls and confining them to only the kitchen and bedroom.
That brought about women lacking in education, decision making and not having equal opportunities as men at various levels.
As a result, we all had to fight for girls in order to bridge that gap between men and women.
It is not wrong to fight for the rights of the Girl-child and fight for gender equality as there have been gender imbalances from time past.
However, this fight is gradually taking us to a future where we would need to fight again, and by that time we would be fighting for the Boy-child.
We cannot even begin to imagine a future where many boys/men will be uneducated, wayward, irresponsible and lacking behind at all levels.
Such a future will be dangerous and detrimental to our society and the world at large.
There is a saying in Akan which translates, "When men fall, it is women and children who suffer the most."
It is imperative for us to draw boys also closer, encourage and motivate them, give them attention and show them care and affection in their education, personal, family, and social lives as well as what is expected of them.
Neglected Boy-children grow to pose danger to society and even their own selves and families.
We need to consciously channel some of our efforts to providing for, protecting and showing interest, attention and care to Boys as we do girls. There should be equal balance. Boys should not be left out. Boys too matter. Boy-children are also vulnerable.
Through education, advocacy, support, motivation, encouragement and generally showing interest in what concerns them, we can assist boys in making life choices that will improve their skills in relating with women and girls, and thereby having positive interaction with girls as well as increased societal participation.
We need to critically educate, create the awareness and challenge certain gender stereotypes and behaviours which perpetuate and heighten violent behaviours towards women and girls by boys and men.
Such education and awareness creation will help boys become change agents in reducing sexual violence and abuse against women and girls. This will guide their behaviour and increase their skills in understanding and appreciating the differences in the opposite gender.
They say "If you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation."
But I dare say that, If we educate and develop both boys and girls to their full potentials today, we will have a more Responsible, Stronger, Secure and Resilient nation tomorrow.
I say that it is dangerous when Boys go wayward but it's even more dangerous when full grown men need repair.
So let us all come together and build strong boys today so we would not have to repair broken men tomorrow.
The Boy-child Advocate
Helena AdutwumwaaBonto (Mrs.)
Founder/ Executive Director
CONCERN for the BOYCHILD INITIATIVE GHANA
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