In 2011 United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 which declared October 11 of every year as the month to recognise the rights and challenges faced by the girl child.
To show their commitment, UN issued a statement that read, “To take efforts to end all forms of violence against girls and women to the next level, it is important that we focus on adolescent girls and move beyond awareness-raising to investments in and support for this critical group that will shape the present and the future.”
The move was hailed by most countries and gender activists around the world who felt that the girl child have been disadvantaged over the boy child whom they said enjoyed more opportunities.
They believed that empowering the girl child will reduce the levels of violence against them.
Botswana got the ball rolling by ensuring that not only is the girl child is empowered but even women by coming up with programs geared towards empowering them.
Reasons behind the deliberate empowerment were that women have been seriously disadvantaged as most of them were denied education and employment due to cultural beliefs.
The campaigns are said to be now bearing fruits as more girls are now empowered and some have managed to break into the male dominated jobs especially in engineering and other labour intensive ones which were traditionally a no go area for them.
Another aim for empowering the girl child was to stop gender based violence and abuse which was mainly attributed to the fact that men had buying power and used that to oppress women.
However experts are worried by the isolation of the boy child noting that the society is now breeding monster who will now be more violent towards the females than before due to low self-esteem.
John Koskey Chang’ach of Moi University, School of Education, Educational Foundations Department, Kenya writing for International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, argues that the society has neglected the boy child.
He said that the issue of the boy child has not been adequately addressed, “Extensive analysis of data indicates that boy child is at a higher risk of dropping out of school than girls.”
Chang’ach said that the boy child of the 21st Century is faced with tremendous challenges which unless properly guarded, the society is losing him.
It is important to note that in a country such as Kenya where the girl child is given prevalence, leaves the boy child vulnerable in the foreseeable future. Equally of concern as regards to transition rates from primary to secondary education, so much attention and emphasis has been given to the girl child and thus ignoring the issues of the boy child, observed the Kenyan scholar.
On how the boy child can be made aware that he is equal to the girl child and not superior Chang’ach proposed that only education will give boys knowledge that would expose the fallacies behind socio-cultural practices that make them feel superior.
His viewpoint was buttressed by Kgomotso Jongman of Jongman Psychosocial Service Clinic who said that though a lot have been achieved to empower the girl child, the boy child have been severely neglected.
He said that research has shown that boys in rural areas drop out of school than girls at the age of 10 and start drinking home brewed alcohol.
“While the girl child is empowered and her self-esteem grows, the boy whom he grew up with in rural areas is just left behind and his self-esteem drops thus leading to violent behavior which is currently prevalent in rural areas,” said Jongman.
He said the empowerment strategy which is currently rolled out to girls especially to rural areas like Miss Rural Areas Dwellers People (RADP) is not well informed.
Jongman said that while the program is a noble one it has ignored another disadvantaged group being boys who will resort to violence towards the girls in trying to register their misgivings.
He called for both girls and boys to be given equal opportunities and avoid classifying duties according to gender.
First Vice President of International Criminal Court (ICC) Sanjii Monageng who is also a gender activist said that it is important that both boy and girl child are given equal opportunities.
“Boys are also vulnerable people especially to abuse and if you now put them aside and only concentrate on the girl child is not fair at all to them,” said Justice Monageng in an interview with the Patriot on Sunday recently.
She said that it is about time the society especially gender activists, start a serious campaign for the empowerment of both the boy and girl child.
Another concern for The Hague based judge is the issue of child labour which is prevalent in farms in Botswana noting that it needs serious commitment from all stakeholders in order to eradicate it.
According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) new data shows that the world will not fulfil one of the most basic commitments: to get every child in school by 2015. The data shows that over 58 million children between the age of 6 and 11 will not be enrolled in schools due to various reasons by 2015.
Report from statistics Botswana on Enrolment by School Ownership, Sex and Standard 2012 shows that while males have the highest enrolment from standard one at 27,673 compared to 25,433 of females the number is at par when they reach standard seven with girl child having an upper hand. At standard seven enrollments for boys are 20,582 while girls are 20,872.
The CSO report indicates that 65.1 percent of the total primary school dropouts in 2012 were males.
The secondary enrollment for 2012 shows 51.7 percent of females’ enrolment and 48.3 percent for males.
Unlike in primary schools, the highest number of drop outs in secondary schools is females due to teenage pregnancy whilea majority of boys drop at Form One due to truancy and other unspecified reasons, according to CSO.
In order to help students who did not do well in their studies, Ministry of Education and Skills Development introduced Back to School Program and according to CSO the female re-entrants constituted 63.9 percent of the total re-entrants in 2012.
The statistics have solidified the position that the boy child must not be left behind.