THE NEWLY NEGLECTED GENDER
Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, educational, gender, or economic strength of individuals and communities. Former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings has called on society to support endeavors to educate the boy child, even as it advocates girl child education. “Having done so much for the girl child, what do we do for the boy child who seems to be lagging behind? I personally think that it is time we encouraged the boy child in his education to bring a balance into proportion into the country’s educated population because if women constitute 50 percent of the population, the men constitute the other 50 percent so we cannot exclude the participation of either gender. The inevitable negative results will definitely be a drastic loss of necessary human capital. It is for this reason that I now appreciate the importance of bringing a good balance to both the boy and girl child in their education. We are looking at education that empowers, we are talking about education that gives skills and builds self-confidence,” Mrs. Rawlings emphasized. Over the years, emphasis has been laid on empowering the girl child and as such neglecting the boy child.The issues on the boy child unlike the girl child currently in our societies have to a large extent being ignored. This is to ascertain that while emphasis is stressed on the empowerment of the girl child on one hand, the boy child issues are still lagging behind.
These emphases however important and appropriate they may be, have led to the negligence on the issues facing the boy child. Unfortunately, when the term boy child is mentioned in any forum, most people make a limited mental reference to a male child and his access to education or lack of it, or to the lower standards of education available to him when compared to his counterpart, the girl child. The boy child, despite how society chooses to treat him, is still vulnerable. He is a child, just like the girl child and therefore should be handled with care. We should not sit back and assume that because he is male, he will figure his way out of problems. The same guidance that is given to the girl child should also be given to the boy child. Children’s rights are defined in numerous ways, including a wide spectrum of civil, cultural, economic, social and political rights. The same emphasis used to protect the girl child, ought to be the same when it comes to the boy child. Rights tend to be of two general types: those advocating for children as autonomous persons under the law and those placing a claim on society for protection from harms perpetrated on children because of their dependency. These have been labeled as the right of empowerment and as the right to protection. One Canadian organization categorizes children’s rights into three categories: Provision: Children have the right to an adequate standard of living, health care, education and services, and to play and recreation. These include a balanced diet, a warm bed to sleep in, and access to schooling. Protection: Children have the right to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination.
This includes the right to safe places for children to play; constructive child rearing behavior, and acknowledgment of the evolving capacities of children. Participation: Children have the right to participate in communities and have programs and services for themselves. This includes children’s involvement in libraries and community programs, youth voice activities, and involving children as decision-makers. In a similar fashion, the Child Rights Information Network, or CRIN for short, categorizes rights into two groups: Economic, social and cultural rights, related to the conditions necessary to meet basic human needs such as food, shelter, education, health care, and gainful employment. Included are rights to education, adequate housing, food, water, the highest attainable standard of health, the right to work and rights at work, as well as the cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. Environmental, cultural and developmental rights, which are sometimes called “third generation rights,” and including the right to live in safe and healthy environments and that groups of people have the right to cultural, political, and economic development. Amnesty International openly advocates four particular children’s rights, including the end to juvenile incarceration without parole, an end to the recruitment of military use of children, ending the death penalty for people under 21, and raising awareness of human rights in the classroom.
Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization, includes child labor, juvenile justice, orphans and abandoned children, refugees, street children and corporal punishment. Scholarly study generally focuses children’s rights by identifying individual rights. The following rights “allow children to grow up healthy and free”: Freedom of speech, Freedom of thought, Freedom from fear, Freedom of choice and the right to make decisions and ownership over one’s body. Other issues affecting children’s rights include the military use of children, sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
There are various factors that lead to the neglecting of the boy child. These are as follows: Parental Role on gender socialization; the parents’ roles are of the maximum importance for personality development of the children. Basic traditional roles of being a parent are, nurture and educate children, discipline them, manage home and financially support family. The main idea is that parents must be child centered and should aim to optimal growth and development of their children, to help them have satisfactory biological, social, psychological and emotional growth. Currently most parents while observing their biological responsibility in one hand they also neglect their social and psychological responsibility on the other to their children mostly the boy child. Gender socialization (where by boys are taught to be masculine and girls to be feminine in accordance with the gender norms of society this takes place in the various institutions of society such as the family, school and church) has been impractical in most families mostly to the boys. This can be seen where by while mothers due to both Custom and social norms, the ongoing issues on women empowerment, changes in public policies on women, activists movements (Feminism) and other issues relating to women in the society use all these and bring about an increased awareness to their girl child, which amongst other things has led to increasing rate in the promotion of the girl child Education.
The gender socialization with regard to the boy child is another different case as it has been highly overlooked. The contributors to this have been the fathers who neglect their vital role in the social development of the boy child leaving it to the women (mothers) and this has resulted to the neglecting of the challenges that face this group including child labor, HIV/Aids, sexual abuse, Education notably in Ghana in some areas in the north, boys drop out of school early to engage in all forms of employments such as stone quarrying, surface mining and farming, just to earn a living. Thus even though it might not be entirely negative, it nonetheless calls for thorough investigations to understand the factors that might be militating against boy-child education, especially in rural areas. The absence of research and programs focusing specifically on the boy child also manifests the neglect and has led to the neglect of the boy child. For instance there is a substantial literature and research on the girl child globally , as well as on violence against girls and women in Africa for example in Botswana we have (Women’s Information Centre, 1999;Women’s Affairs Department 1999; Rivers 2(00),South Africa (Women’s Net), Australia ( Countries Women Association) The girl child has been given more attention partly because research and programs that focus on her are quite often initiated by the Women’s Affairs Department (WAD) or by women’s non-governmental organizations . In contrast there is severe shortage of government departments, NGOs or programs that focus specifically on issues affecting boys and men. Another important reason for the neglect of the boy child issues is the way in which masculine identities are socially constructed. The beliefs, myths and attitudes that society has about masculinity that is the masculine factor is considered a sense of strength and security in a family as well as the ways in which boys understand their masculine identities play a key role in the minimal attention that has been given to the issue of the boy child.
In Africa, as well as in many other parts of the world, boys are taught to be masculine and girls to be feminine in accordance with the gender norms of society. This takes place in the various institutions of society such as the family, school and church. Implicit in such education are beliefs that the boy child is stronger, more intelligent and more powerful than the girl child, and therefore does not need as much protection as the girl child. He is not expected to show his emotions or any weaknesses. For example he is taught not to cry but always to behave in a brave manner. Because boys are socialized not to display their weaknesses, they tend to suffer in silence. Thus Society teaches males that they must be in control all the time. Therefore males tend to dominate in many areas of life (family, school, work). This power, control and domination imply that males do not have problems. Quite often males look well and confident on the outside, but are not so, on their inside. Because of this, their psychosocial problems remain unknown and under-researched. Furthermore, the belief that males including boys must always be initiators of sexual activity has contributed to the neglect of the issue of the boy child neglect. Because society believes that boys are the initiators in sex, it is often very difficult for boys who have been sexually abused to disclose such experiences. In addition, some people may not believe that a boy child could be a victim of either sexual harassment or sexual abuse.
The role played by the Public policies and the Law of different Nations in the world due to the ongoing issues affecting the girl child and women in general have stressed much emphasis on the girl child leaving behind what goes on with the boy child. Issues recognized as a menace to women and girl child development include cultural barriers, (societies practicing FGM), Educating the girl child, women empowerment, wife beating, Spouse inheritance, sexual abuse and Harassment of women all these have influenced the current public policies in different Countries of the world to vote in favor of the campaigns supporting women development in various aspect.
The establishment of the various Non-governmental organizations recognizing the women’s right such as The Coalition on Violence Against Women‚ Kenya, COVAW (K), is a non-partisan and non-profit making national women human rights non-governmental organization registered in Kenya under the NGO Coordination Act. COVAW (K) was established in 1995 as a result of a workshop organized by WILDAF (Women in Law and development in Africa) that sought to strengthen the networking capacities of women organizations in Kenya, leaving behind the current existing situation that faces the boy child. In Tanzania the Darja Njema Organization is on among the very few organizations that are recognized as a non-governmental and nonprofit organization that focuses on the plight of boy child and young men in the south coast of Tanzania (Msambweni district). But this has not decreased the current challenges facing the boy child in the Country.
The role played by the Media and other public institutions such as schools, it has been observed that currently having the ongoing debate on the issues affecting women globally triggered by various factors. It is obvious that the press and the current educating systems will always reflect as to what the current challenges affecting the society are. This has led to the neglect on the threatening issues and the current existing situation that faces the boy child on the other hand. Students in schools are introduced to the topics covering the whole aspect of Gender but emphasis is placed on the issues only affecting the women (girl child) and the possible solutions to eradicate and rectify the situation.
Thus less attention is provided on the issues facing the boy child. This has led to increase of misconcepts once the issue of the boy child neglect to empowerment is placed forth for discussion thus many people make a limited mental reference to a male child and his access to education or lack of it, or to the lower standards of education available to him when compared to his counterpart, the girl child, while this topic covers a wide range of issues affecting the boy child due to negligence.
Parental joint role in child rearing in discussing this there is a school of thought that appears to be emerging on the way forward. That is women are unfairly overburdened. As it stands, mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, females in general carry the load of empowering the girl child as well as providing support and guidance to the boy child. While men do little or nothing thus menfolk have indeed neglected their duties to the boy child as fathers, father-figures, big brothers, cousins, uncles leaving the boy-child neglected and troubled. Women’s rights activists therefore believe that society should stop blaming women for the troubled boy child. Furthermore, women should no longer be considered as the custodians of traditional societal values such that when children stray and destroy their lives, blame is heaped on women failing to raise them right. Therefore the reproductive role can no longer be borne by women alone.
The responsibilities of pregnancy and child rearing must be shared equally between the man and the woman, as much as possible. Therefore, this school of thought concludes by stating that the troubled boy child dilemma should not be left to women to figure out and deal with. Men themselves should start holding the boy child’s hand the way women have long been doing with the girl child. However, the overall responsibility of ensuring that there is gender balance in society remains a concerted effort between both men and women, especially those already involved in the human rights movement and within civil society. Having known those points, there are also ways of ensuring that the boy child is no longer an ‘endangered species’. Some of the various ways of doing this are: Ensuring sufficient programs and organizations that will deal with the boy child issues. This requires support from both the public at large and their existing governments. But such support both financial, ideological, and material support to rectify the challenges facing the boy child such as sexual harassment, HIV/Aids, Drug abuse among youth especially Injecting Drug Users (IDU), Sex tourism, Sexual exploitation crimes., HIV/AIDS, Child trafficking and abduction, Child labor over exploitation, child labor, Youth empowerment programmes and talent exposure cannot be met unless the media plays its role in enlightening the public on the ongoing issue of the boy child neglect as currently the main focus of the media has been much influenced by the existing challenges and issues that face the women (girl child). The Draja Njema in the South Coast of Tanzania (Msambweni district) provides for a good example of an organization that has focused on initiatives for boy child and youth to promote the equitable distribution of his welfare especially disadvantaged boys and youth between 15 to 30 years old.
Thus need for an increase on the organizations and research programmes that will advocate the development of boy child and young men, Capacitate boy youth and youth organizations associates and communities with training, mentoring and development and location of resources. And Ensure the formulation and delivery of developmental programmes based on research of the issues facing the boy child. Enlightening the public on the ongoing issues facing the boy child as well this role should be played by the media. Thus the media should open up to the existing challenges facing the boy child so as to promote awareness to the public not only on the need of empowering the girl child but also the boy child as well. The public as seen is not fully disclosed or tends to ignore the existing challenges that faces the boy child these include issues like Drug abuse among youth especially Injecting Drug Users (IDU), Sex tourism, Sexual exploitation crimes, HIV/AIDS, Child trafficking and abduction, Child labor over exploitation, child labor, Youth empowerment programmes and talent exposure. The thought of empowering a girl child more than the boy has shown clear results of neglecting the boy. However, much has been done today to liberate the girl child and give her an equal position in life as the boy receives.
That’s marvelous! Nowadays the girl child is protected against early marriage and is given the chance to go to school. Even better, there are great female leaders as a result of such wonderful work. Women who have received such empowerment are now contributing positively to the society. The question of equality should not mean empowering women and girls while ignoring and bringing down the men and boys but to give them equal opportunities and therefore the respect of all humanity. Let us not deny the need to empower the boy child. He should be nurtured, emotionally and morally built as much as the girl child is, and the following are ways this can be done: 1) Mirroring – It is the process of serving as the reflection of a child’s abilities, skills and qualities so they begin to “see” themselves as they really are: highly valuable, talented and capable right now. 2) Encouragement – It is the act of literally “putting in courage” or belief in your child. Such support enables them to “see” themselves as they are: highly competent now. 3) Give choices.
4) Let them make decisions- They will be able to make decisions for themselves and learn from them. 5) Ask their opinion- They will be able to feel some source of importance, hence building their self-confidence. 6) Let them say “no!” to you appropriately and set boundaries- By doing so, the boy-child will be exercising their rights of saying no to what they are not comfortable with. 7) Give them greater responsibilities- Greater responsibilities increases their rate of intellectual growth and maturity. 8) Give them more and more say-so in home agreements.
9) Give them more places to stretch themselves and have more freedom. 10) Let them hold you accountable to agreements- This way, not only will they learn to be accountable for their decisions, they will be able to figure out where they go wrong or right. 11) Give them more opportunities to be valuable/ make a difference. 12) Let them teach you things- Many children have with them ideas that we as adults probably didn’t know about. 13) Apologize when you are wrong or make a mistake- This shows them that you care about their feelings. 14) Let them experience the process of getting frustrated, struggle, make mistakes and then succeed. 15) Unconditionally love them in all ways: Honor their spirit, accept them for who they are, give them “all the time they need” to be heard and understood, and accept all parts of them without judgment.( A Baker’s Dozen Ways to Empower Children: http://www.weloki.com/pdf/Empower.pdf)
As the world evolves, you probably have noticed the emergence of organizations that are focused on the redemption of the girl child. It has been the assumption of many that a female child needs protection and recognition. As true as this may be, the society needs to focus on these questions. Who is the society protecting the girl child from? Does the boy child require the same level of protection and whose responsibility is it? Are there problems that actually face the girl and the boy yet more attention are given to the girl since the femininity has been deemed by the society as the “weaker vessel”? Is the society assuming that masculinity in a boy child is enough to protect him? With all this in mind, the society; being you and I should put into consideration that both boys and girls ought to be treated equally in every area of their lives. None is more important than the other. They both deserve equal level of education, protection and opportunities at large. It is indeed true that the boy child in Africa and some parts of the world for many generations has unwittingly benefitted from a patriarchal society that has prized men over women and sons over daughters. And so, the boy child used this gender imbalance as a crutch to get by in life and even prosper with very little effort compared with his female counterparts. But that was then, now things have changed. As issues of women’s empowerment gain prominence and a wide array of policies aimed at uplifting the girl child start to bear fruit, suddenly the boy child is now emerging as the threatened one. This implies possible measures are to be undertaken so as to rectify the current situation here in are some of the measures that adherence to will not only eradicate the issue but also promote awareness to the public at large on existing challenges facing the boy child.
(http://www.modernghana.com/news/282704/1/konadu-educate-the-boy-child-as-well.html) http://diasporadical.com/2011/06/22/we-must-accept-the-blame-for-the-troubled-boy-child/) (A Baker’s Dozen Ways to Empower Children: http://www.weloki.com/pdf/Empower.pdf) (http://socyberty.com/men/who-takes-care-of-the-needs-of-the-male-child/#ixzz
GROUP TWO ESSAY ON:
“BOY CHILD EMPOWERMENT.”
GROUP TWO COMPRISES OF:
LECTURER: BRENDA WAMBUA