To achieve gender equality, we must begin to mentor boys to understand and respect the right of girls, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development (FMWASD), Mrs Pauline Tallen, said.
Mrs Tallen, who was speaking at a programme geared towards the 2020 International Women’s Day (IWD), with theme “I am Generation Equal: Realising Women’s Right”, organised by her ministry in conjunction with Mercy Corps and Tabitha Cumi foundation in Abuja, said mentoring boys would help them be better fathers in the future.
She said the theme of the event, “Girls Mentorship and Boys Respect for Women’s Rights”, was from the main theme of the 2020 IWD and the aim is to ensure that when there are opportunities, men and women should benefit equally.
The minister also said countries across the world have been urged to be gender sensitive and practise equality, while also working towards eradicating girls and women abuse, battering and the likes in our societies.
The Programme Manager Implementation, Mercy Corp, Mrs Abiose, said they try to bring in the boys this time around because living one gender behind will not help in achieving the goal of equality.
“If we concentrate so much effort and interventions on one particular sex, there is the danger that we will leave the other one behind and it will take so much effort to start working on the other group. So, it is better to work with both of them at the same time,” she said.
She said empowering one group and letting the other group know that they need to support, protect the right of this other group will help in development effort and that is why we are looking at male involvement at all levels whether at the school, communities, work places, getting the male gender to support the female gender.
She added that this involvement creates deeper understanding because many of our male folk actually work from the point of ignorance, adding that they have been orientated in a community that is patriarchal in nature.
“Right from cradle, they have been told that the man is in charge, the head, the one who made decision. This is something that has been inculcated and even as they grow up, it becomes part of them and it becomes very difficult to break, but it can be done through advocacy, awareness and continue to speak the message and not keeping quiet. Also involving them in the programme, letting them see with evidence that if you give support, this is what you will see in the girls and women. It is not just to talk but working the talk.”
The head girl, Government Day Secondary School, Karu, where the event took place, Blessing Angee said having the boys to learn along with them in the area of hygiene and others is something that has made them gain their support more than before.
“In the area of menstrual hygiene, girls are often embarrassed when they are stained but since the boys have been trained on the support system, they have been supportive; no more mockery when such happen.”
An SS2 student, Vincent Joseph, also said he learnt that they don’t just say they are boys and just leave it at that, but they must understand that they have sisters at home, school mates that are girls and friends that are female and cannot just watch them go astray but have to encourage them and support them academically, physically and otherwise.