So, what about boys?This year‟s
report is the fifth in the „Because I am a Girl‟ series. From the very first, in 2007, when we began monitoring the State of the World‟s Girls, we have been asked: “What about boys?” Indeed, boys too are affected by poverty, discrimination and lack of opportunity in many parts of the world.
So, what about boys?The BIAAG
Report Series has focused on girls in the interests of equality. In too many societies girls still face the double discrimination of being young and being female. They are pulled out of school, married early, and are more likely to be subject to violence.This is not only unjust; it is also short-sighted. The 500 million adolescent girls and young women in developing countries are potentially a major force in driving economic progress.
So, what about boys?But the
challenge of gender equality cannot be tackled by girls andwomen alone – which brings us back to boys and men.Fathers, husbands, brothers and boyfriends all have their part to play, andthis year‟s report will demonstrate how and why men and boys can, andshould, contribute to creating a more equal society.
“Being a girl, I know
that most boys don’t understand howcrucial the problems affecting girls are. Those who dounderstand, don’t realize that they have the power to dosomething… gender equality, social injustice andreproductive and sexual health are boys’ and men’s issuestoo. That’s why it is vital to look at how boys and young mencan empower girls.”Maneesa, 14, Canada “I think getting young men and boys to empower girls is a good idea… No one, male or female, should ever be discriminated against, left out of school, be in poverty, or treated poorly by the rest of the human race.” Maneesa, 14, Canada
Why should boys and young
men care about gender equality? • Girls‟ and women‟s rights are human rights. • Greater gender equality will help boys to succeed in school, to be comfortable with their own identity• A new perspective on gender is about a more productive way of viewing power relationships to the benefit of both sexes
Gender equality is good for
boys too!• The belief that girls and women are somehow inferior fuels male violence towards them.• Gender stereo types and their consequences doesn‟t just harm women and girls, it alsodamages men and boys.• Concepts of „traditional‟ masculinities force them to behave in ways that make themuncomfortable.• The dividends of gender equality will be enjoyed by all children and thecommunities.
Counting the cost… (1/2) In
countries of the North and in Latin Americaand Caribbean, boys are now dropping out of schoolat a faster rate than girls. They are also doing lesswell academically. Young men have the highest rates of death bytraffic accidents, suicide and violence, all of whichare related to the way that they are socialized to bemen. In Jamaica, Brazil, Colombia and some partsof sub-Saharan Africa, more young men die in theseways than in countries at war. In Western Europe, the external causes listedabove make up more than 60 per cent of mortalityamong boys and young men up to the age of 24. Young men are less likely to visit a doctor or aclinic or to seek information about their health – as aresult, 60 per cent of men and boys aged 15 to 24do not have accurate and comprehensiveknowledge about HIV and how to avoidtransmission.
Counting the cost.... (2/2)The World
Health Organisation estimates that in theAmericas the risk of dying from homicide if you are ayoung man between the ages of 15 and 29 is almost28 times greater than the average risk worldwide.In Brazil, the 2000 census found that there werenearly 200,000 fewer men than women agedbetween 15 and 29 because of higher rates ofmortality.Young men also have higher rates of alcohol andsubstance use. A national survey of young men aged15 to19 in the US found that young men who adheredto traditional views of manhood were more likely toengage in substance use, violence and delinquencyand unsafe sexual practices.
The Importanceof FathersA father‟s role
is cruciallyimportant. How he treatshis wife and daughters willlimit or enhance theirpotentialand choices in life. But itwill make a difference tohis sons too.A father who does his fairshare of domesticwork, who values andeducates his childrenequally, who cuddles hissons and daughters andtreats his wife as an equaltoo will have a powerfulimpact on how his songrows to be a man andtreats his own family.
Father figuresSupportive male relatives have
a big roleto play in protecting girls, from earlymarriage and female genital mutilation.Men may be able to convince thecommunity to abandon FGM in a way thatis difficult for women.
Father figures Young Fathers in
particular need support to engage in childcare anddomestic chores and take on more ofthe burden of care borne by teenage mothers. This is not easy, and they may face teasing and even hostility from their peers.
“I talk to my daughters
about their studies and about who they are involved with. Nowadays, parentsare more affectionate than before... they care more about the children. We didn’t use to talk a lot, we only used to work.”Father in Brazil, from focus groups for Plan research
Key research findingsPlan commissioned research
with 12 to 18year olds in several different countries. The main findings were:65% of participants from India and Rwandatotally or partially agreed with the statement „Awoman should tolerate violence in order tokeep her family together‟. 43% agreed with thestatement: „There are times when a womandeserves to be beaten.‟„Changing diapers, giving kids a bath andfeeding kids are the mother‟s responsibility.‟67% of boys and 71% of girls in Rwandaagreed, as did 83% of boys and 87% of girls inIndia. The survey showed, however, that childrenare happier when they see their parentssharing household responsibilities.Over 60 % of children interviewed in Indiaagreed that „if resources are scarce it is betterto educate a boy instead of a girl‟.
Standing up for gender equality
Men who stand up for gender equality have to face the difficulties of going against theprevailing norms. Men may face ridicule and derision not only from other men, but from women as well.
Equality makes me happy! “Having
more equality makes me happy. I am a betterfriend, with closer friendships with both boys and girls and better conversations.” Luis, 21, El Salvador
“When I started going out
with a girl, if we didn’t havesex within two weeks, I would leave her. But now,after the workshops, I think differently. I want toconstruct something, a relationship, with her.”Young man, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The right start –education is
keyComprehensive earlychildhood initiatives areinstrumental inchallenging genderstereotypes thatreinforce machismo andkeep women powerlessin the family andsociety.In Peru, for instance,Iniciativa Papa, an earlychildhood, strengthensthe bond betweenfathers and tots throughintensive maleparticipation in child-rearing.
Learning not tohit…Boys‟ education makes
amajor contribution togender equality.A multi-country study by theInternational Center forResearch on Women andInstituto Promundoinvolving 11,000 interviewsfound that men withsecondary educationshowed more support forgender equality.They were less likely to beviolent towards women, andmore likely to participate inthe care of children.
The 8 ACTION PLAN:EDUCATE!1) Start
young- pre-school education shouldpromote equality between girls and boys andinvolve parents2)Transform school curricula to challengestereotypes and acknowledge difference3)Support girls’ and boys’ participation in thecreation of policies to improve sex education4)Make school safe for girls and boysCAMPAIGN!5)Launch campaigns that challengediscrimination and engage men and boysLEGISLATE!6)Pass laws that enable both parents to take anactive part in raising their children7)Enforce legislation to end violence againstwomen and girls8)Legislate for equal opportunities
“We all suffer when women
and girls are abused and their needs areneglected. By denying them security and opportunity we embed unfairness inour societies and fail to make the most of the talents of half the population. In too many countries we talk about democracy and deny the rights of women and girls… I call on all men and boys to throw their weight behind the campaign for equality.” President Cardoso, Former President of Brazil and a member of The Elders