‘Get boys involved in gender rights,’ NGO says


Gender equality is not just one side of the coin

A girl in Southern Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish primary school.
Sixty five percent of 12-18 year olds who participated in a study in India and Rwanda agreed with the statement ‘A women should tolerate violence in order to keep her family together.’ And over 60 percent of children interviewed in India agreed that; ‘if resources are scarce it is better to educate a boy instead of a girl.’
Attitudes like these are one of the reasons 75 million girls are still not receiving basic education.
A new report from Plan International says the other gender needs to be recruited to work alongside girls for the dream of equal rights and relationships for girls to become a reality.
“Gender equality is not just talking about one side of the coin; we need to involve both parties to solve the problem. Today, men have a lot of power to change how things operate. That is why increased collaboration is needed,” said Jennet Kem, Campaign Manager of the Africa Unite Campaign.
Without involving boys in research, it becomes difficult to answer the question of why men behave in a misogynistic manner toward women.
“There aren’t a lot of studies done on how boys and men are affected by gender equality because evidence shows that usually men and boys have advantages but they still are affected by gender inequality,” said Yamrot Girma, Program Coordinator for Gender and Reproductive Health at Addis Ababa University.
In most households boys are told not to express their feelings, they are told that to be a man is to be physically strong, to dominate all things including females and their non-social behaviors are excused by saying ‘boys will be boys’. This does not teach boys responsibility nor does it clarify what is expected of them, Yamrot added.
The report starts by painting a familiar and gloomy picture of the situation for girls across the globe, before going on to remind us that far from being a matter just for girls and women, gender equality is also about boys and men,” said David Throp, Country Director of Plan International Ethiopia.
Plan International first began working in Ethiopia in 1974 to help poor children access their right to education, health, protection and participation. As part of the ‘because I’m a girl’ initiative, Plan International Ethiopia joined likeminded organizations in sponsoring the Choice Women’s First 5Km road race which took place earlier this month. Plan International Ethiopia will be contributing by sponsoring  the celebration of the first International Day of the Girl Child later this year.
The report was entitled “What About the Boys” from the ‘Because I am a girl’ campaign by Plan international and was launched on Tuesday March 20, 2012.
Previous editions have touched on themes such as conflict, the global economy, urbanization and cyberspace and how each of these affects girls’ rights and wellbeing.