We, at ABM Foundation, have identified a gap in so far as the nurturing of the boy child is concerned. Our observation is that, whilst understandably so, too much focus is centred on the girl-child. It is our view that this oversight and/or neglect of the boy child is the source of many of the societal challenges that we are faced with today. We believe that Mr Mpumalanga is unique as it aims to be a more exciting and innovative platform through targeting boys (young men) and affording them a once in a lifetime opportunity to be groomed to be Ambassadors who are going to be Change Agents within our societies.
Through our interactions with possible partners and stakeholders to this projects, it goes without saying that we are all in one accord that some of the violent behaviors that we experience in our communities are perpetuated by the bias towards the girl-child and thus leaving the boy child to find their way by themselves towards life. As such they grow up with gender stereotypes which some of it they learn from other men.
It is also hoped that through this initiative, we will be able to garner support and partner with influential men in our communities who can help to turn things around for the betterment of our societies.
We believe that as we gain more buy-in into the Project, this project does have a potential of modelling boys to become change agents in reducing sexual violence and abuse against women and children. Through grooming these young men, we aim to create an environment that promotes and improve health relations and relationships between males and females and thereby correcting the already existing harmful perceptions that exist within our society.
For example, we have learnt through research that the Gauteng Department of Social Development does have a “Men and Boys Programme” under its Victim Empowerment Programme as part of the proposed solutions to eradicate gender-based violence. The said Programme also helps men in the following areas:-
- to look at their fears, insecurities, problems and related issues that leads them to be perpetrators of gender-based violence.
- It also looks at the re-socialization of men, as they will be responsible fathers and partners and members of our society.
- Through this programme, men are also taught to express their feelings without any fear of losing their manhood.
- Most importantly we found the Programme to be also looking at the early socialization of the boy child with regard to the healthy interaction with the girl child and other boys.
We have also learnt that as early as 2009, the SABC, Metro FM and Tracker proudly co-partnered and endorsed the Department of Basic Education initiative that seeks to develop a new breed of young men titled, ‘The Men in the Making’ initiative. ‘The Men in the Making’ initiative is a call to action to the nation to also consider the “boy child” as equally important to nurture and protect as the girl child. Through this Initiative, the last week of March was to be allocated as the national day for the boys. The fact that to this day, we know nothing or less of this initiative and its purpose, shows that there is still no or very little buy-in on the critical importance of supporting a boy child and that more still needs to be done in this area. This Project (Mr. Mpumalanga) is our little bit of the more that still needs to be done.