Too many of our boys are invisible and forgotten. Each boy is important and in this race of life, nobody should be left behind. It is within this context that the first observance of “International Day of the Boy Child”, henceforth known as “International Boys’ Day” will be observed on 16 May 2020.”

In Sierra Leone today we see young men grouped together in ‘attaya bases’, others been condemned for their seemingly lack of interest in securing livelihoods that better their communities. Gender Based Violence is on the increase amidst several efforts from different key stakeholders. We vilify the men, condemn their attitudes and blame everyone but the homes and the community for their follies and mishaps.

This has been the status quo for decades, it seems we have all forgotten an integral part of the puzzle: boys become men. Are we raising our boys to become men that we will admire and count on? Or are we still drenched in misinformation and cultural biases which gives a superiority to the male sex. In fact, in most African homes, the male child is idolized and granted favours and exemptions above girls, this behaviour is exaggerated in such a way that in some cases boys have more influence in decision making even over their Mothers. We must agree on one thing these attitudes are wrong and must be corrected.

If you are mindful of recent news and happenings, you will agree that there are regular incidents in which misguided young boys are involved in fraud, cyber-bullying, pornography, alcoholism, drug addiction, robbery, and violence.

We must acknowledge that these occurrences are due to many factors including:

  • Lack of attention.
  • Lack of good parenting and care.
  • Lack of guidance and support for the boy-child and his development and general well-being.

How can we move away from raising misogynisticboys to gender activists, He for She’s and boys who value and respect girls?

  • We must evaluate how boys were raised in the past, to help us know what we should be doing differently to change the narrative. What good elements can we maintain? What negative attitudes should we eradicate. How can we transfer this information across our communities within the educational system? As we need to stop teaching our boys that certain roles are not meant for them, they need to recognize that respect like success must be earned.
  • We must invest in raising our boys and educating them better, Intentional parenting is the go to route. We must teach them that everyone regardless of gender is responsible for their actions, no one is exempted from the natural and civil laws. We must raise boys who are emotionally intelligent, ones who will know that it is okay to cry and be emotional (and that doesn’t make you weak) Sons that will cook, clean and care for themselves and their siblings. Boys who we will have sexual reproductive discussions with, responsible sons.
  • We must join hands in counselling them and in sharing information that support the betterment and good growth of our boys. We must volunteer our time and resources in investing in boys, mentoring them and raising champions of change that will work in transforming boys into human beings who are dignified, honest, caring, empathetic and are great leaders.

We must Teach our boys That we are sexual beings and it is ok to have sex when you are physically and emotionally ready. That sexual consent must be explicitly given by girls/women. You cannot proceed without someone saying yes – I want to engage in this sexual act with you. That contraception is also the responsibility of boys. That when ready you should use a condom every single time you have sex. – Dr. Fatu Forna Sesay