Lagos State First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu on Saturday launched a novel initiative championed by her office to see to the welfare, well-being and interests of the boy child.
The initiative, tagged: “The 21st Century Boy Child: Creating a Vision for Transformation,” according to a press statement by the Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Office of Lagos State First Lady, Mrs Olubukonla Nwonah, is aimed at ensuring that the boy child is not left behind in the scheme of affairs.
Speaking at the event which was attended by various stakeholders, the First Lady said it had been observed that the needed attention had not been given to issues of the boy child, and that there is a strong need to correct the imbalance of the gender scale.
“One of the reasons we decided to embark on this initiative is that there is a cry out there that parents, knowingly and unknowingly, are putting a lot of emphasis and efforts on the girl child but seem to be forgetting that the boy child is equally important and we need to balance it.
“Even God created Adam and Eve (Boy and Girl); He didn’t just create Adam; there was a need to have Eve. And so, if we keep on talking about the girl child all the time and forget that the girl child is going to end up with the boy child at home as husband and wife, and then they will have children and then the circle starts all over again. The point here is that it has to be balanced,” Sanwo-Olu said.
She added that by the nature and perception of the boy child as being strong and resilient, the society tends to pay little or no attention to issues affecting male children.
“Even as we plan to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, we are of the strong view that the interests, welfare and well-being of the boy child too should be factored into the scheme of affairs.
“Thus, our Boy Child Initiative is aimed at focusing the searchlights on the challenges that boys are silently contending with, and proffer workable as well as actionable solutions. This initiative is simply about inclusion and ensuring that no member or strata of the society is left behind,” the First Lady said.
She also made a case for the full recognition of May 16 which is the International Boys Day by the United Nations.
“I know there are quite a number of people like me out there all over the world that have been pushing for the boy child initiative. It has not been recognized hundred percent by the United Nations, but I know with time when a lot of us push this initiative a little bit more, it will be recognized,” she said.
Giving further details on the initiative, Sanwo-Olu said participants from ages 9 and 17 who have already been selected from the five administrative divisions of the state namely Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Epe would go through a one-week residential training, while parents from various groups and associations would also be lectured on how to handle the training of boy child.
She said some of the topics which would be facilitated by subject-matter experts include Security and You, Mental Health, Media Literacy and Responsible Use of Social Media, Counseling, Parenting, Family Values, Civic Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, Career Path Finding, Self-Esteem, Personal Hygiene and Etiquette, among others.
Other activities are Table Tennis Competition, Boy Bands and visits to historical sites and strategic organizations.
As part of the initiative, an awareness walk was held from Ikeja City Mall to Lagos House, Alausa Ikeja, with the First Lady, various NGOs and students selected from both the formal and informal sectors participating and displaying placards of various inscriptions such as “I stand with the boy child; stop neglecting the boy child; boys are important too,” among others.
The launch was attended by various stakeholders such as Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Association of Primary School Teachers, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nasrullah-Fathih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) Women Wing, Nigeria Institute of Building, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Psychological Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Homes administered by the Ministry of Youth and Social Development and students from educational districts of the Ministry of Education.
Other groups in attendance are Iyaniwura Children Care Foundation, Purkiche Girl Child Foundation, Street Child Care & Welfare Initiative, Chosen Child Orphanage and Care Centre, Compassionate Orphanage, Child Protection Network and others.