The girl-child: Parents canvass attention for boys too

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Some parents in Abuja have started asking if the male-child has now been relegated to the background, contrary to hitherto beliefs in many societies and culture, especially in Africa, that sons are supposedly superior to daughters.

Mrs Esther Harrison, an Abuja-based human rights advocate, said international and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) should address the fact that male children were gradually being forgotten in incentives to progress.

She made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

Harrison claimed that there had been gradual increase in opportunities for girls at the expense of boys in the country and globally.

She explained that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were aimed at eradicating
poverty, improve health and create opportunities for children to equally have bright future.

“However, we realise that there are more scholarships and development programmes for girls and much less of those benefits for boys and that is not right.

“It is even seen in the international celebratory days.

“We have father’s day, mother’s day, children’s day and the girl-child day, created by the United Nations. Does it mean that boys should not be celebrated?

“We should keep in mind that boys and girls in Syria were being equally attacked with explosions and stray bullets, yet these same boys would be forced to join the army when the country required people to fight for it.’’

Emmanuel Maxwell, an Engineer, also told NAN that boys were gradually being relegated
or forgotten in the modern world.

He narrated that “I am a father of two boys and a girl. My daughter is the oldest of the three children and I am glad that the modern world is considering her and other girls as jewels that should be valued.

“When I was a child my sisters were treated very differently and they didn’t have rights like the girls of today, so I am really happy about the development.

“However, I have two boys who feel they have been forgotten by the society and everyone just expects them to naturally become men and take up responsibilities.

“When my daughter finished secondary school, we searched for scholarships and found many that were offered to girls around the world as most of the grants focused on girls from developing countries.

“We even came across a number of universities that offered favouritism to females by reducing the admission requirement for girls into degree programme.’’

He emphasized that his problem was that his son, who wished to start university next year
could not get scholarship to help save money.

He added that “I am surprise to see that there are almost no scholarships for boys or young men either in Nigeria or elsewhere like done to girls.

“We are in the computer age where men no longer win by using their muscles.

“The world moves by peoples’ mental abilities and that is what is encouraging the feminist movement.

“Feminism encourages the empowerment of women by acknowledging the fact that they can be independent and equally smart as men and are therefore asking to be seen as strong individuals.

“I have many friends who are worried about this new overwhelming investment in girls and I am sure other parents who have sons are worried too.’’

Maxwell then urged the Federal Government to introduce special scholarships for boys and young male undergraduates to encourage them.

He also called on international organisations and well-to-do individuals to sponsor boys too and reduce the emphasis on girls only.

He said “I wonder if the opportunities given to girls are indirectly telling us that girls are not strong enough to stand on their own.

“We do not want our sons and boys to grow up to believe that they are less important.’’

The girl-child had recently been celebrated around the world as countries and international organisations raised concerns over girls’ education and the need for them to be empowered and be at par with their male counterparts.

In a bid to celebrate the Girl-Child also, the United Nations marks an observance day known around the world as “The International Day of the Girl Child” on Oct. 11 of every year, the first of which was celebrated in 2012.

Consequently, the issues of early marriage, girl-child education, rape and violence against girls and women were brought to the fore, so that the female gender would also be recognised as a nation builder and a strong personality that should be given equal attention as the male. (NAN)

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