I came across a very interesting event that is speaking up for boys and was I elated? Of course...I literally gave a dance that some people all over the world are getting the groove; the groove that we cannot leave boys and men behind while empowering girls and women. Let me not flog the matter, read the report verbatim as published by Shore Line Beacon
Hundreds looked on as proud young men, decked out in crisp uniforms, led their parents onto the campus that will help unlock their future.
This January, the Kisaruni group of girls' schools in Kenya's Maasai Mara unveiled its first all-boys high school. After the opening ceremony, village elders christened it with a name. They chose Ngulot, Swahili for "strength." They want their sons to be as strong as their daughters.
Ngulot High School's first lesson: When empowering women, we must include men. Leading up to International Women's Day on March 8, it's a vital message.
Sadly, women still march in the streets for the same fundamental rights men take for granted. In developing communities especially, huge gaps remain in areas like women's education, health and economic opportunity. Closing those gaps means creating resources, like all-girls' schools and female entrepreneurship programs.
But equality is more than an economic problem; it involves changing minds.
In Canada, many men now march alongside women as allies, an act that helps shift social dynamics and recognizes gender equity as a human rights issue that effects everyone. This mindset shift is also crucial in developing communities.
"We must also empower men . . . to challenge prevailing norms and change their behaviours," writes Maria Correia, World Bank manager for social development.
Overlooking men can actually worsen inequality, according to a 2013 World Bank study that examined two decades of research on gender equity programs.
Before the boys' school, local community leaders like Willy Cheres were concerned about that very problem. Donors had lined up to fund two Kisaruni schools for girls, but there was little support to build a school for boys -- until Mitch Kurylowicz, a 12-year-old from Ottawa, began raising funds in 2011 to address the gap.
"Our girls were rising up, but our boys were being left behind," says Cheres.