International Day of the Boy Child – “Focus on Boys’ Health and Wellbeing” in Mitigating GBV in Nigeria

International Day of the Boy Child – “Focus on Boys’ Health and Wellbeing” in Mitigating GBV in Nigeria

By: Paulyn Owhievbie Ugbodaga

The International Day of the Boy Child, observed on May 16th each year, aims to raise awareness about the challenges boys face and to promote their well-being and development. This year, the theme “Focus on Boys’ Health and Well-being” highlights the importance of addressing the unique health needs of boys.

How can this contribute to mitigating the spread of gender-based violence in Nigeria?

In Nigeria, as in many parts of the world, gender-based violence affects both boys and girls, albeit in different ways. While girls are often the primary victims of violence, boys also experience various forms of abuse, including physical violence, sexual exploitation, and emotional abuse. However, societal expectations and gender norms often discourage boys from speaking out about their experiences or seeking help, leading to underreporting and a lack of support services tailored to their needs.

One crucial aspect of addressing gender-based violence in Nigeria is promoting boys’ health and well-being from a young age. This includes ensuring access to quality healthcare services, education, and opportunities for personal and social development. By investing in boys’ health and well-being, we can empower them to become healthy, resilient individuals who are less likely to perpetrate violence or become victims themselves.

Health education plays a vital role in preventing gender-based violence by promoting healthy relationships, communication skills, and respectful behavior. By teaching boys about consent, empathy, and gender equality, we can challenge harmful attitudes and behaviors that contribute to violence against women and girls. Additionally, providing comprehensive sexuality education can help boys make informed choices, develop healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships, and prevent sexual violence.

Furthermore, addressing the root causes of gender-based violence requires dismantling harmful stereotypes and rigid gender roles that perpetuate inequality and discrimination. Boys are often socialsed to conform to traditional notions of masculinity, which equate strength with aggression and dominance. This pressure to conform to unrealistic ideals of manhood can have detrimental effects on boys’ mental health and well-being, increasing their risk of engaging in violent behavior.

By promoting positive masculinity and challenging harmful gender norms, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society where boys feel valued and respected for who they are. This includes providing support services for boys who have experienced trauma or abuse, as well as promoting positive role models and mentorship programmes to help boys develop healthy coping strategies and resilience.

Ultimately, focusing on boys’ health and well-being is not only essential for their individual development but also for building a more peaceful and equitable society. By investing in boys’ physical, emotional, and social well-being, we can empower them to become agents of change who contribute to creating a culture of respect, equality, and non-violence in Nigeria and beyond. As we commemorate the International Day of the Boy Child, let us reaffirm our commitment to promoting the rights and well-being of all children, regardless of their gender, and working towards a future free from gender-based violence.

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