- Despite the women being the major food producers, they remained voiceless, powerless at the same time they suffered abuse from their spouses. As a result, activists on human rights stood up to fight for women and girl child rights.
Back in the 1950s and late 70s most the families neglected the girl child. The boy child was given priority when it came to education. As a result majority of women ended up being stay at home mothers. Taking care of their families and farming was the norm.
Despite the women being the major food producers, they remained voiceless, powerless at the same time they suffered abuse from their spouses. As a result, activists on human rights stood up to fight for women and girl child rights.
Movements, campaigns, literatures with the focus of empowering women and girl child made it possible and their situation has so far improved though there are still gaps which need to be bridged.
However, the same struggles to put women and girls at the fore front have impacted negatively on the boy child. A simple survey by Sound Living reveals that it is also important for both parents and activists to also focus on the improvement of the well being of the boy-child.
Prosper Jariji, 24, is among other boys who was neglected by his parents. Seven years ago, he moved from his village Kichwele in Kigoma region to continue with his Primary Education at the Mokachi Centre in Kigoma.
The centre was funded by the European Union to cater for orphans and vulnerable children.
The centre was closed as soon as Prosper and his fellow pupils had completed Standard Seven.
Though he was enrolled at grade V, his parents never bothered to visit him during the entire time he was at school until he completed his primary education in 2011.
“I am coming from a poor family but it was not an excuse for them not to visit me at the centre. I had a lot of unanswered questions of why they never showed up on visiting days. As soon as I completed my primary education I was selected to join Bushabani Secondary School in the same region,” says Jariji.
But still he had to request for accommodation from one of the staff members of Mokachi Centre as it was not too far from the school.
He says his family never supported him so he resorted to selling water after lessons and would do house chores for his hosts. In exchange they would pay for him school fees.
At one point, the host family invited his parents one weekend and asked them why they neglected their own son. They said boys are born to be fighters so they believed he would fend for himself.
According to Jariji, the host family supported him until he completed secondary school in 2015.
“I did not perform well so am just helping this family run their business and they pay me Sh150,000 per month. I am still living with them family and it has turned out to be my second family. I am looking forward to opening my own shop in a years time from now,” says Jariji.
In September 2011 Plan International launched a report “Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2011, So what about boys?” to show that gender campaigns have completely ignored the plight of the boys.
The report shows that boys and men should also be catered for in the campaigns to have a positive impact in our societies and economies.
Drawing on research and case studies, the report argues that working for equality must involve men and boys both as holders of power and as a group that is also suffering the consequences of negative gender stereotypes.
It also makes recommendations for action, showing policy makers and planners what can make the real difference to girls’ lives all over the world.
Commenting on the matter Jeanne Ndyetabura, an assistant commissioner for social welfare in Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, says that, it is true that majority focused on the empowerment of the girl child forgetting the boy also needs same attention as the girl.
There is a lot to do for the boy child. It is not possible for the country to see how much damage the neglect had caused to the boy child if we do not take time to reflect how boys are coping up with the daily challenges.
She says that, there are issues that affect the well being of boy child like drug abuse, gay issues as well as involving themselves in unsafe sex.
She says that this is the right time that parents and activists should pay attention to the boy child as they have done to girls. Failing to do that means we will end up with a generation of irresponsible fathers and husbands,” added Ndyetabura.
Martina John,35, is a nurse, a married woman and mother of two boys and two girls. She agrees that, most of the parents including her neglect the boys thinking they could make it easily unlike girls who need so much support.
“I love all my children. But I treat the girls with favour unlike boys. I always start with girls, even paying for their school fees, buying clothes then I come to the boys. I just feel girls need more attention because our society is already male dominated,” says Martina.
Adding to that she says, she is doing that to make her daughters more strong and confident to face challenges ahead of their lives. With boys, she thinks since men are do not need much attention since they are physically stronger.
Adam Mbulininge, a cleric based in Dar es Salaam says that men were naturally created by God as the head of the family. But he still gave power to parents to teach and mould their children on better ways to become responsible adults.
According to Pastor Mbulininge, most of the parents tend to think that men/boy child also need special attention as girls. He says the belief that men are born to be strong and face all troubles and solve them without even emotional support is wrong.
“This is wrong. We are raising a generation of men who would not strive to face challenges of life. Instead they will turn out to be lazy in thinking and opt to shortcuts as solutions that will put them into serious problems,” says Pastor Mbulininge.
According Gozbert Lawa, a sociologist based in Morogoro, if parents don’t not take care of their sons as they do with girls, there is a risk of raising violent adolescents/fathers.
He says that, these boys feel unloved by their parents and in the process of trying to get the attention they lose it and get into being violent and unmanageable.
‘‘ It is important for parents and activists to also give time for the boy child. The rising number of abuses in marriages, and irresponsible fathers came from this neglect of the boy child,” he says.
He warns that this would continue if serious steps are not taken to address the plight of the boy child.