Would female empowerment lead to the neglect of the boy-child in Nigeria?
A man named Ambrose is seated perusing a magazine. He pauses at some page and shares his thoughts with his friend, Ann.
Look, these girls that you guys are empowering will still grow up to marry these boys that you are neglecting.
(trying to understand)
Nowadays, you see girls achieving more than the boys in schools. You see opportunities like scholarship programmes for girls just like the one in this magazine. Conferences and seminars and the whole fuzz about the girl child. But you hardly see anything for the boy child. We have neglected the boys so much that they are now on the streets leading in crimes like kidnapping, rituals, yahoo (internet fraud) and the likes. These boys are also the highest population in prison, while the girls are leading with flying colours in different sectors.
(Still trying to understand) Okay…So, what is the problem?
That is what I’m saying. We are now so focused on the female child that we abandon the boy child and leave them on their own to figure out life. When these ladies are ready for marriage, they will not find the boys that would meet their standards because these boys would probably be in prison or living recklessly. The boys that might even manage to have a decent living would become intimidated by the intelligence and high status of these girls that they would feel unworthy to marry them. The girls would become desperate for a suitable partner and then the scripture that says “…in that day, seven women will take hold of one man…” will be fulfilled.
Oh, I see. To begin this conversation however, there are some generalisations that would need to be made specific.
First things first. Who are you referring to as “you guys” and “we”?
Ur..m, basically, that’s just a “blanket word” for society.
Hold on. We will not be able to have a successful conversation if we both throw “blanket words”. If a problem must be tackled, there must be specifics; so you have to ruminate.
(Thinks hard) Really, I just used that word.
Let me assist you. Many women/girls empowerment and rescue programmes are pioneered by women, especially older women. Right?
So, can we safely agree that “you guys” and “we” have a pragmatic implicature referring to the women?
(Takes a deep breath) Something like that.
Okay. We got the missing link in your complaint. Women.
Ambrose and Ann:
You see, growing up as a child, my siblings and I had this attitude loosely called “ha sirim chuwa ewu” in Igbo.
When we individually see a potentially harmful object obstructing a walkway at home or an object that is not supposed to be where it is, we would just ignore and carefully pass around it because, in our minds, we were not the ones who kept it there. What is more? We were not told to remove it. So, our mom, upon noticing that behaviour, would rebuke “ha asirim chuwa ewu”, come on take that thing out of the way!”
(Laughs)What does that mean?
I was just going to explain that. It is emanated from an illustration of a person who refuses to chase a goat away from eating a tuber of yam until they are told to do so. “Ha sirim chuwa ewu” literally means, “they told me to chase goat” but its contextual meaning is also extended to a person or a group of people who avoid partaking in the solution of a problem that would benefit a certain number of people including themselves. We see this behaviour exhibited by politicians who would rather hoard national funds than use it to the benefit of all thereby resulting in the stagnation we constantly experience.
Anyways, back to our talk.
If the women have taken the responsibility of seeing to the empowerment of these young girls, should it not be an exemplary act for the men to emulate instead of guilt-tripping the efforts of these women by saying they (the women) are abandoning the boys?
Let’s look at the idea of parenting in this society. Most fathers would prefer to spend their time with their friends in the beer parlour as long as they have fulfilled the responsibility of providing financially for the family (even though we know that in our social reality, women are active breadwinners as their partners).
The term “work and family balance” is used for career women and not men because subconsciously, when we think of training a child, we think only of the women. This has resulted in the absence of fathers in the parenting role of training a child aside from finance. Implying that the empowerment of girls has resulted in the abandonment of the boy child sounds like a hypocritical statement because this problem has been there all along. The empowerment of the girl-child just made it obvious. And if at all, a conversation should be made about this abandonment, it should be a solution-driven conversation amongst the men, older men especially, on how they can assume the responsible role of grooming and empowering the boy-child.
Moving on to your scriptural quote on the clinging of seven women to one man- (laughs heartily)
(Chuckles) No, speak on. I’m listening.
Honestly, I find that a ridiculous reference- no offense intended.
First, it is alarming how a girl, despite her achievements and contribution to society, is judged by her ability or inability to get married, suffocating her choice to accept or decline what we consider marriage. This is another subconscious thought that contrasts what it means to be human.
On top of that, you quoted biblical scripture to back up this bias. Would you still quote that scripture if you remembered that before Christianity was introduced, polygyny had been a cultural practice? Would you still make reference to that scripture if you acknowledged that other religions like Islam exist aside from Christianity? Would you still feel the urge to pin the empowerment of girls as the basis for the fulfillment of that scripture because you feel boys are abandoned?
Dear Ambrose, this conversation is not meant to be an attack but an attempt to resurrect critical and humane thoughts that would elicit responsibility from the older men in solving the problem of the male child abandonment that you have raised.
(Extends hand to Ambrose)
Ambrose: (smiles) shake hands.
♦ Favour Chiagozie Ebubechukwu is an Editorial Staff Writer and columnist with the WAP
Latest posts by Pilotnews (see all)
- IPMAN President, Ahmed, Decries Delay in Payment of Bridging Claims - January 21, 2022
- The Menace of Local Government Transition Committee in Anambra State - January 20, 2022
- A Toast To Willie—Dissecting Anambra’s Gubernatorial Politics - January 20, 2022
US Envoy Challenges Nigerian Journalists On Fact-Checking