Engaging boys as partners in prevention of gender violence
By Caleb Odhiambo
Growing up seeing his sister discriminated against, Abdi (not his real name) grew up knowing that girls are subordinate. He tried to understand the reason behind this but through constant cultural practice he was constantly directly or indirectly reminded that the girl wasn’t worth much. His notions of this however started changing when he joined school. A teacher, one of his role models, offered him learning assistance with reading and writing despite having a disability; the same disability that saw the community shun him as much as the girls. This inspired Abdi to be the change he wanted to see in his community, for the disabled and for girls.
Abdi has been a member of an adolescent group that is fighting stereotypes against the girl child. This initiative is run by Save the Children through the support of UNHCR. The program seeks to engage boy behavior change champions. Abdi and his fellow boys in the camps of Dadaab have been going out to positively influence boys’ attitudes towards girls.
During a tournament held in Dadaab, in April, the theme ”Kicking out violence against women and girls”, boys and girls came together to have fun and celebrate equality; a missing element for a long time in many communities in North Eastern Kenya.
A puppet group was at hand to sensitize those present through skits which expounded on the day’s theme – equality for all our girls and women.
Child participation, a key objective of Save the Children’s Every Last Child campaign in Kenya is driving our push to give children like Abdi an opportunity to be community change agents. And it is working.