Taking boys into account this International Day of the Girl Child
The world celebrates International Day of the Girl Child annually on 11 October. It aims to acknowledge the needs and challenges of girls around the world whilst also promoting empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. But with all the focus around the Girl Child, are we missing an important piece of the puzzle: the Boy Child?
Onyi Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services says, “As a society we have made great headway with spreading the message of women empowerment. The change will come as a result of continuous communication, when the young people of today grow up with a different mentality toward women and children. But in this mission, we must not forget about the boy child. We must acknowledge that you cannot have a holistic girl child without a rounded boy child”.
Notable figures agree. SA Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, “Blade” Nzimande recently said, “It’s been correct to focus on the girl child, but now it is equally important to focus on the boy child because your main perpetrators of violence are men and we need to combat this early by focusing on the boy child”.
Professor Kopano Ratele from the Institute of Social and Health Sciences (ISHS) at the University of South Africa (UNISA) – best known for his work on issues of identity, violence, sexuality and masculinity – believes that “we should be giving girl children this education to be independent, but you have to give boy children an education to be kind, egalitarian, feminists and fantastic”.
In addition, we have seen the launch of movements such as The Boy-Child campaign by loveLife that aims to start challenging societal norms. They campaign to build young men with values and a healthy respect for themselves and others.
Nwaneri continues, “We are all made to believe that men are a superior social group to women, but we must recognise that the boy child is also a victim: of gender conditioning, socio-cultural norms, bad examples, violence and more. It has been suggested that a neglected boy child generally grows up to be a bigger danger to society than girls. This is the tip of the iceberg, there are so many reasons we should be giving the boy child just as much attention”.
The recent SAPS Annual Crime Report stated that for the 2017/2018 period 985 children were murdered across the country, 691 were boys and 294 were girls.
Afrika Tikkun believes that the development of all children equally is of the utmost importance. Their internal policies, Cradle to Career 360° model and periphery campaigns are geared toward all Afrika Tikkun’s young people. They are advocates of children’s rights as written in the Constitution of South Africa and they exist to meet the basic needs of all young people, including stability, safety and belonging.
Interventions to help develop young boys cannot be overstated. The need for education around patriarchy and how to better channel aggression and anger is crucial. Inclusive policies towards empowerment and equality for all is vital. And these activations must be employed in every household, school and community in the country.