“As a young man I commit to never laugh at any of the girls when they have problems but instead to help them.”
“As a young man I commit never to disrespect old people and girls.”
These are just two examples of the pledges made by the male learners at Matholeng High School in Lesotho on 18 and 19 September, 2021, at the conclusion of a boys’ vulnerability dialogue, organized by FutureLife-Now!, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Training.
More than 80 boys participated in the interactive dialogue and all wrote and read out what they had committed to as young men.
The aim of the two day workshop was to encourage boys to take advantage of educational opportunities and work towards the prevention of gender-based violence, learner pregnancy and early parenthood.
“A fight against teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV and AIDS and other social ills starts with addressing boys’ vulnerabilities, as they have the potential to change things around,” said Puleng Nthinya, FutureLife-Now! Health Coordinator, Lesotho. “The best approach is to engage with boys and men to address their needs, thus improving their future livelihoods and attaining their dreams.”
This is the first boy’s vulnerability dialogue to be held in Lesotho. A range of facilitators led different sessions, including representatives from the Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, and officers from the Child, Gender and Protection Unit. The dialogues involved interactive, open discussion in the absence of teachers, and also incorporated different games, followed by discussions in relation to those games. (For example, why netball was seen as a girls’ game.)
“These dialogues strive to provide boys with the skills and knowledge to make healthy life choices that will protect their overall well-being,” said Regina Kotele, Lesotho FutureLife-Now! Country Coordinator. “Many boys drop out of school, engage in violent and criminal behaviour, unsafe sex, or practice other risky behaviours because this is what they believe they have to do to be regarded as ‘real men’ by their friends and their communities,” she added. She said that these dialogues encouraged boys to become champions of change, and to protect themselves and their female counterparts in society. “Many boys have completely changed their thinking because of the workshops.”
This is evident in the following pledge from a Grade 10 learner who wrote, “As a young man I commit to always respecting myself so that people can also respect me. I will work hand-in-hand with everyone to help others. As a young man I commit never to bully anyone, young or old.”