Four years ago I was elated after viewing the trailer for the then, new DC Comic TV Series, called Arrow. I guess it was because I was extremely enthused to see how CW will deliver on their franchise of the Green Arrow. Consequently, after watching the first episode I was immediately hooked and now three seasons in I am still crazy about the show as I was then.
However, one of the most memorable aspects of the show was the famous line used by the arrow whenever he was about to apprehend a suspect. He would always start off by calling their names which was immediately followed by the tag line “You Have Failed This City.”
Though a fictional show and character, I have always wondered if there was a green arrow in Guyana how many of us would he have visited? How many of us would he have told that we have failed this country?
Interestingly enough, I believe he would have been saying to us as a nation that when it comes to how we treat our boys and men that,”Guyana you have failed your boys and men”. Sadly, the reality is that it would be a true statement.
From my observations I am of the opinion that as a nation we have indeed failed our boys and men. For too long we have paraded with the ideology that IT IS A MAN’s world. The result of which can be seen in our society where gender based violence particularly against women and girls has plagued this country for decades.
Guyana has constantly been accused of being eons behind the rest of the western world when it comes to gender equality, gender based violence and discrimination. The problem however is that we haven’t realized the impact modernization has had on our men. Last year I attended a forum called One Billion Rising. The theme for last year was standing shoulder to shoulder, men and women, boys and girls to find and implement resolutions to curb the disease of gender based violence.
The most alarming thing I noted was some facts posted on the official website which states the staggering statistic that,
1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.
Likewise, and in relation to Guyana,the daily headlines speak to the magnitude of this problem, where rape discrimination and domestic violence continue to be the frontliners that are plaguing this country.
Therefore, while I must commend organizations such as S4 Foundation, Red Thread, Women Across Differences, Help and Shelter, and similar organizations that have been making strides to raise awareness and advocate for more policies that would remove this scourge I still believe we need more programs and organizations geared towards boys and men.
Most of our current organizations are geared towards women empowerment and advocacy for women’s rights (something I strongly agree with) but many hardly ever deal with the causative factor, boys and men.
I believe if our boys and men can understand that we as males aren’t “superior” to our female counterparts ONLY then can we begin to start acting same. It is this realization that should catapult the paradigm shift in the thinking of our males from a tender age to grow up into more respectful young and grown men who would be able to act in accord to mitigate gender based violence in this country.
Women empowerment can only be truly effective if our males understand that women are their equals. As such, we need to create a culture where our boys and men can see our girls and women not as their subordinates but as equals in all aspect of lives. I am hopeful that with the implementation of the men’s health unit at the ministry of health that this can become a reality.
It is time our boys and men understand that the rhetoric and belief, “it’s a man’s world” is nothing but an old fisherman’s tale. Hence, if we are to change this way of thinking we need to implement programs that will begin to fix the problem. Forget chivalry; forget being a “gentleman”. These attributes do not correlate well with treating women as equals. What we should be teaching our boys in particular, is to respect the fact that women though genotypical and phenothypically different, have the same capabilities as males and therefore should be treated with the same respect we hold for our fellow boys and men. It is only then that we will learn that the world would be nothing without a woman or girl and hence, only then will we end gender based violence against women and girls.