I read a piece contained in the magazine Quartz that featured a piece that emphasised the importance of men in developing countries getting involved in family planning efforts. While this is good step, what caught my attention was the report of the emergence of groups of men and boys in these countries (like Kenya, Togo, Benin) that are educating themselves on a broad range of issues. About time. Boys have been left behind; there has been so much focus and emphasis laid on the upbringing of a female that her counterpart males seem stunted and not in tune with realities.
The woman has become strong, vocal and competent. Maybe that’s why we are seeing so many males ‘converting’ to females; it is greener on the other side. Anyway, the groups, widely known as “schools for husbands” and “boys clubs,” educate men and boys on matters of family planning and reproductive health, addressing an idea of positive masculinity and the rejection of gender-based violence.
These groups—which often get the key support of local traditional leaders—are created with the scope of including husbands in the planning of family contraception, and educating them in reproductive care and women’s rights, and to help boys develop respectful intersexual dynamics and healthy relationships with girls and women.
The goal sees community and religious leaders deliver the education, as well as members of the groups themselves, who educate other men either directly, or through broader channel, such as participating in the creation of sexual health and positive masculinity messages to be incorporated in popular radio shows.
We sorely need these groups/clubs here in Nigeria. Our generation of men are endangered. While it is common to see circles of men, it is not like the support groups and the like that women currently have. They are usually social drinking groups. Nothing wrong with relaxation but there is a gap for mentorship that needs to be filled.