Author: Nellie Nelson Otto
parents As in many parts of Uganda, childcare providers in Busoga pay more attention to the plight of girls, who are considered weak and vulnerable, while neglecting boys, who are traditionally considered strong, to the detriment of society.
Ms. Florence Mutyabule, Senior Advisor to the President on Poverty Alleviation in Busoga, observed that especially in Busoga and in Uganda as a whole, the number of boys who drop out of school is increasing and eventually join criminal gangs due to the hard life.
“…Parents will be more concerned about their daughters’ welfare than their sons, and they will ensure that their daughters have enough pocket money and study materials, while their sons have to keep busy…” she noted.
She also blamed the current wave of family instability, such as divorces in the sub-region, on poor parenting of boys who see themselves as superiors and bosses to their liberal wives.
She worries that even most gender equality campaigns by states and NGOs do focus more on protecting girls and forget that boys have their own problems to solve.
“…They are the ones who rob us in the streets, they desecrate and rape, they murder without mercy, they pose a real safety and social threat to communities that have failed to guide us in childhood They…”, she pointed out.
Mrs Mutiyabule now wants a shift in social policy to address this gap so boys are treated equally and are fully prepared to face the world’s challenges.
“…You will find that in most families, parents are very strict about girls sitting down, going home early, and avoiding the wrong groups, while boys are left alone without any guidance…” she lamented.
It is not uncommon for school-age boys to work as odd jobs as helpers, hawking various items such as shoes, clothes and polythene bags, as well as food items such as fruits and peanuts in urban centers.
Most of these children end up as street children and eventually grow into gangs that terrorize the population.
As a retired school principal, Ms Mutiyabule also noted with concern that pregnant girls were consistently expelled from school, while boys were forced to continue their studies.
She said such boys would marry well-educated girls, but in most cases the marriages would not last because the boy’s parents were not prepared.
As a way forward, Ms Mutiyabule encouraged parents and guardians to embrace balanced parenting, which involves caring for and guiding all children under the same roof without discrimination.
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