I yesterday posted a disturbed email to a listserve called ConcernedKenyanWriters and an interesting discussion ensued that helped me to clarify my position on the question of men and boys development in society today. Because of its importance, I have unilaterally decided to publish the discussion – I won’t mention the names of the people who commented unless they give me their permission. Only the first letters of their names will be used.
Do you know wanjiru was only 24? A recent man, from a poor background and little exposure with a lot of money and fame in Nyahururu. No knowledge of how to handle both.
I’m ruminating over what the focus on girl child empowerment and the related negligence on the boy has had an impact in our contemporary socialisation – especially young men.
Case in point: was in Watamu at the school with a colleague who deals with Early Childhood Development. Girls were all called out and told to beware of boys and not to go after sugar daddies for cash. The boys were left in class peeping out of the windows. I went and spoke to the boys. Turned out 4 times a month the girls are taken out by someone to talk and they never do.
Who’s investing in mentoring our boys? how do we get good men brought up? Does anyone see a problem?
on advice and reflection, I see I am hasty in putting up other people’s thoughts without their express permission. So, I temporarily pull it down and leave only my own thoughts on the matter. continue below….
And with a rare coherence, I responded to M.
On all of the issues you raise in your discussion we agree. The interesting thing for me, though, is the fashion in which the “development society” – government, academia and non-profit alike think about areas of focus – usually in a linear way, I find…. We have noticed that as you say (and I agree) that greater effort needs to be put in supporting girls because “boys are still, generally, doing way better than girls in almost all measurable areas. Including education. And in some, not all, areas of socialisation.”
Then the whole machinery moves into action and programmes are developed for girl-child programmes and funding presents itself and foundations say that girls are an area of focus and on “the ground”, girls are pulled out of class at certain times so that their teachers can tell them to beware of the boys who would mislead them, to work hard and that they can be everything a boy can be. So far so good.
As this goes on, and this is what I mean by “girl child empowerment and the related negligence on the boy…”, the boys are left to their own devices and no one tells them that the girl is to be respected, that the way to be a good man is to be a gentleman, and no one overtly acknowledges that the boy-child is part of the eco-system that enables and empowers the girl child and that investment also in the boy-child at the same time as, and not instead of, the girl-child will result in less rape (social and physical), less “misled girls”, less battered wives, more access for women in boys clubs at work etc….
In the last 20 years at least, M, since we acknowledged the girl-child, the boy child has been marginalised. Now, as to the reasons why the boy-child still does better in school and sometimes in socialisation, I don’t feel qualified to speak. But this video by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook might start to speak to some of them.
Don’t go there? I am there.
Now, What am I saying?
Simplistically, I agree and advocate for the empowerment and enable-ment of the girl-child to strengthen their position in society. I ALSO advocate that we consider that the boy-child is a part of the eco-system that would strengthen the girl and woman’s position in society (from school to home to the workplace) and that the focus on empowering the boy and socialising the boy to be a good man HAS A DIRECT BENEFIT to the woman’s empowerment. I want to see more of these sort of things too
I hope I communicate. And this conversation is going to be published on my blog because it is ever so valuable.
I am first an foremost a writer who cares deeply about the world. I enjoy stories - especially history for its rich tapestry of stories of people's lives interwoven intricately in failures and victories. I care so deeply about the world that I also spend much of my time and energy trying to make it better in some way.