Jameni, let's not forget the boy child
By Awuor Omino | August 25th 2021
While gender equality has not been fully achieved in all spheres of life, it is safe to say that the girl child has come a long way in the education sector. A lot has been done to ameliorate her with the society always pitting her against the boy as the standard measure of accomplishment.
We fete headlines like ‘girl tops KCPE’ or ‘what a boy can do a girl can do better.’ However, in our desire to improve the social status of the girl child, we have forgotten that the boy too is our son and depends on us for protection and improvement. Instead, the society tends to lean towards celebrating every down fall of the boy for as long as credit and accomplishment is associated with his girl counterpart.
The boy is no longer the epitome of success that he was eons ago. And while the girl has been scaling the ladder, her brother has been dropping heights at an alarming rate. Post Beijing ‘95’, a lot of non-governmental organisations have sprouted with the sole mandate to protect the welfare of the girl child and policies have been formulated to ensure she is lifted to the desired heights. On the other hand, the boy is neglected like a wild thorn in the bush expected to push his way through untamed competition to arrive at the finish line scathed but successful. A man must try- the society says.
This gospel is so well-embraced that today at the village level, a struggling family will sacrifice a son and take a girl to school unlike before. Families argue that boys do not ‘rot’ and a 20-year-old boy can still go to school anyway. And so we find several boys dropping out of school to eke a living off odd jobs to hold up the family and provide school fees for their younger siblings.
Today, two graduates - one female and the other male - with similar qualifications may not stand the same chance in getting a job. While many of us may have seen the phrase ‘ladies are encouraged to apply’ we are yet to see one encouraging their male counterparts to seek similar opportunities.
In a typical family setting, a girl child will get away with lighter chores. They are modeled to be all round in preparation to be the ideal men the modern society expects them to be – one that can trim fences, plough, dig wells and combat insecurity but also change nappies and make sunny side up eggs for the family on the weekends.
Surprisingly, the same society expects the girl to forget all these light duties such as cooking and delegate them to the man in adulthood in the name of affirmative action as a way of emphasising independence of the female.
The girl is also pampered so that if there was one mattress at home, it will be preserved for her while the boy can use the reed mats because he is expected to embrace suffering without whining.
While we pull all stops to ensure that the girl is protected from early sex and pregnancy, the boy is left free to figure out his way around a delicate transition with limited guidance around matters such as drug abuse. While so many organisations and politicians want to be seen distributing sanitary towels and panties to girls to ensure their comfort, no one stops to think that boys that age too require to have decent inner wears to feel comfortable and confident while undertaking their studies.
Let us hold our sons’ hands the same way we have guided our daughters over the years. At the end of the day, it is these boys we expect to live with our daughters in the near future.
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