“Our boys are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the allies we need today!”, says Nkosinathi Moshoana.

by Tia

International Day of the Boy Child, observed on May 16th, is a stark reminder of the worlds collective guilt in the seeming neglect of the boy child and the challenges our young men face, which stem from toxic notions of masculinity. A focus on the mental wellbeing of young men and boys has become a justifiable focus in the fight against gender-based violence.

As such, boys equate emotion with weakness, are taught to dominate as well as undervalue the respect and opinion of women and the girl-child. This shift in focus to the man and boy-child to redefine masculinity in more equitable and positive terms, is not in any way meant to detract from the important spotlight on women and the girl-child, but rather to compliment it. In 2022 Primestars along with public, private and civil partners, launched a first-of-its-kind GBV-preventative programme titled ‘ What About The Boys?’ aimed at redefining masculinity and targeting high school boys from under-resourced communities across the country. The programme implementation features a movie and curriculum content in the form of a Good Men’s Guide, which is further entrenched via hands-on elements such as mentorship.

The 2024 edition of this ground-breaking programme will launch this month with cinema screenings and then expand to in-school ( rural ) and digital implementations. Utilising a unique cinema education model and the mentorship programme to work through course content, What About the Boys? encourages boys to share their emotions in a healthy way, resist gender stereotypes and speak out against bullying and inequality. Impact reports of the project found that boys who had participated in the process were challenged to interrogate their often-dangerous perceptions about women and sex, and outdated notions of what it means to be a powerful man. This year’s programme intends to build on these learnings, finding new and impactful ways of shifting behaviour.

Post-assessment data illustrates the various challenges faced by young men such as:

  • Lack of a positive male role model.
  • Anger issues and a lack of the skills and knowledge to manage such triggers.
  • Misunderstanding of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Misconception on the role and respect of the women in their lives (sister/mother/gf etc)

Evaluation of the boys that have been through the programme and mentorship sessions shows enhanced behavioural and attitude changes.

“International Day of the Boy Child highlights the importance of educating boys on the principles of respect, empathy, and equity. By redefining masculinity, we empower them to be active allies in the fight against gender-based violence, paving the way for a safer and more equitable South Africa. Let us raise a nation of good men, good fathers, good partners, good colleagues, good leaders and good citizens, who as Maya Angelou said “do the best they can until they know better. Then when they know better …… DO BETTER.” – Martin Sweet, Managing Director of Primestars.

“International Day of the Boy Child reaffirms our commitment to empowering boys towards more positive notions of masculinity. It is a powerful recognition that a critical aspect in the mission to end gender-based violence is founded on fostering a generation who stand against it. Our boys are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the allies we need today!”  – Nkosinathi Moshoana, Chief Operating Officer of Primestars.

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