Watching MBC news on March 13, I saw First Lady Gertrude Mutharika add her voice on calls for increased support for girls to remain in school.
As usual, the tone favoured a girl child.
Lately, I have been scared of something.
A massive campaign for girl child empowerment is underway and some claim that educating a girl is a solution to ending poverty.
I find this debatable and it must be re-examined.
All we need is umunthu.
I define umunthu as living life expected of a human being. This includes loving, caring, hard work and living in harmony with others.
Over time, I have developed a strong belief that being a human being has nothing to do with sex.
The recent Cashgate cases unpacks what both men and women can do to weaken the society.
For so long, we have heard so many cases in child justice courts about women who have poured hot water on adopted or their own children suspected of committing crimes such as stealing cooked potatoes.
It is clear from this that even women can be brutal. It all depends on how effective we have been in documenting crimes committed by both sexes.
Ending poverty requires umunthu, not a specific gender.
One true life story of a boy nicknamed Maganizo.
He comes from Thyolo where he grew up with his father, a primary school teacher. His mother was a house wife.
Growing up in a family of ten children meant life was a rags-to-rags story.
Fortunately, his elder siblings did better in schools and secured some jobs. Their families raised Maganizo and his younger siblings. The sisters, who plunged into abusive marriages, hardly provided for the boy irrespective of their jobs.
Briefly, it is Maganizo’s brothers who have transformed the family to an enviable lot in the village. This is power of empowered men in action!
Whilst I applaud efforts to empower girls and women, the country might in the long run leave behind desperate males likely to become development agents.
A friend currently supports an orphaned nephew whose dream would have been shattered without his intervention. For the bachelor, adopting the eight-year-old boy was not easy.
Yet this boy lived in a community with several programmes targeting women. The man recently started providing tuition fees again for two male neglected boys in Zomba.
These are isolated cases of boys with potential to become useful citizens of this country.
Yet it seems we have gone with speed establishing programmes targeting women only. Popularising women while ignoring men’s pains does not sound like gender equality in the first place.
It is obvious that women have been neglected and affected due to some cultural and religious beliefs.
It is therefore in order to address this issue.
However, this must not be done while silently ignoring men who have evidently contributed towards various positive initiatives in our communities.
I strongly feel that we have gone overboard giving the false impression that all is rosy for men and boys in Chiringa and Vinthukutu.
We might have inclusive policies in place, but these must be implemented non-selectively-and it starts with proper communication.
We must remember that some women just like men, have failed to achieve anything in life due to inborn attitude or laziness, not necessarily lack of an enabling environment.
Isn’t it time every child had a fair chance?
There is need to further investments in all excluded children now or risk a more divided and unfair world. n