In recent times, the empowerment of women and girls has been the global agenda and rightly so we have seen a global push in the feminist movement for equal opportunities and roles in society. It is however worthy to note that boys must not be left out as we empower girls. Boys ought to be raised right too if we want to see them grow up to be the responsible men we desire in our society to complement the empowered woman for our development as a nation.
Forms of abuse often directed against women such as rape, defilement, sexual violence etc. are mostly perpetrated by men and will reduce in our society drastically if we have men who have been raised right. Having been raised right, boys will grow up respecting women and become responsible men who will create equal opportunities for women in society for social development.
Junior Shapers Africa (JSA), is the premier organisation in Africa leading the “Raising Boys Right” Advocacy. The JSA vision was birthed by the strong belief of the Founding Director; Mrs. Ethel Marfo that for so long we have only been “schooling boys” and not “raising them right” to find their purpose, know their role and also to complement the empowered woman, leading to mental frustration among the younger generation of men. According to her, the total liberation of women lies in raising confident sons and empowering pro- feminist males thus the inclusion of our young males is very relevant in achieving a gender equal world for all.
Since 2015, JSA has been championing male child personal development through the provision of grooming, mentorship and counselling opportunities for young males in Africa to become confident, responsible and supportive partners by exposing them to values, life skills and nurturing careers. Boys are inspired to make a difference in the lives of rural girls, children and youth in fulfilment of UN SDGs 4, 5, 8 & 10.
Over the years, JSA boys have been empowered to champion gender equality through the JSA Boys SDGs Project. In 2018, JSA boys raised money to embark on a menstrual health project at Somnyamekodur D/A Basic School, in Twifo Hemang – Central Region. They embraced the opportunity to be educated on girls’ menstrual hygiene at Faytex Industries so they can share this knowledge with the girls in Somnyamekodur. They also raised funds from the general public and through the media to purchase sanitary towels for the girls who could not afford them and resorted to unhygienic methods.
In line with the UN SDGs Decade of Action commencing this year through to 2030, it has become vital for us to address the concerns and vulnerabilities of boys as a way of accelerating male involvement in the global push for SDG 5: Gender Equality. We need to create awareness and raise gender sensitive men now to eliminate the current gender stereotypes in society impeding gender equality. Men ought not to be left out in the fulfilment of gender equality and the time to start is now by involving the future generation to create the right balance in the attainment of this goal. The total liberation of women lies in empowering pro- feminist males thus the inclusion of males is very relevant in achieving a gender equal world for all.
Raising boys right will inspire boys to become responsible men and fathers worth emulating, discover their purpose and enable them improve their general wellbeing to achieve their full potential.
For instance, in 2017 we had a situation at JSA whereby a mother was very concerned about her son’s academic performance at school. We motivated her to look beyond academic intelligence and embrace her son’s unique intelligence in creating things with his hands. We believe that when a child is appreciated he gives off his best in life. We offered the young boy an opportunity to showcase his recycled plastic work at one of our graduation ceremonies and that was his breakthrough as a young child. He was hailed and applauded by all for his unique abilities which endeared him to several unique opportunities thereafter. Today this young boy has picked up in his academic work because he feels fulfilled and appreciated for his unique skills and intelligence type.
In conclusion, parents and guardians must pay equal attention to the training of boys and girls to eliminate gender stereotypes in their upbringing. Secondly parents and guardians should also enroll their boys in value added education programs just like they do for their girls to prepare them to be men in future.