Society, Women Rights

How mothers can raise feminist sons

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Many of us must have watched this commercial that seeks to promote a new women’ television station and are wondering how come the regulator has not recalled it nor has there been massive public outcry.  Yet it is sending the wrong message to our children on gender stereotypes. It actually exemplifies the pervasiveness of misogyny in our society. It goes “who does all the chores?” and the answer “girls” who takes selfies and the answer “girls” and on and on it goes.  When little girls and boys watch this absurd commercial, they don’t just accept this as the norm but it shapes their long term perspective. This is how stereotypes hurt all of us and are passed on from generation to generation.

In fact my sons have already started to refer to this advert to challenge some of my efforts to reject gender stereotypes. The generation of kids we are raising need feminist men and women more than ever. And not just “oh, men and women are equal” but feminist men who will stand to men who aren’t and say “No, that is not ok”

In previous engagements, many feminists have shared that it is critical for us to begin early to create gender awareness. Between the age of three and five the consciousness of gender transforms into solidified opinions informed by the culture around children. What they learn about gender at this young age will shape their world view. For example, Dr. Maggie Kigozi who has broken many ceilings, being among the first woman in male dominated sectors, at recent Women in Leadership platform asked why girls are given dolls to play with while boys are provided with science gadgets to stimulate their minds and then we continue to decry the dominance of men in STEM.

As mothers it is also important to lead by example and show our sons that women are just as strong, smart, just as capable. We have to share stories of amazing things that women have done historically and doing now. The other critical thing is to ensure that when they say things that uphold oppressive social norms is to immediately correct him. I know kids pick up a lot of stuff at school but we can counter it. When my sons go to school and their friends’ call girls names, I want them to be able to say “Man that is not cool.” On the other hand I will also let my sons know that it is okay to cry and help them redefine strength if his instinct is to clench his fist.

We also need to de-emphasize labor division in the home and the whole stereotype that girls cook and do dishes while boys sit and watch television or help daddy wash the car must be tackled head on. There is no women’s work. There is no mans work. There is work and we are a team. Every member is valuable.

There is definitely no silver bullet as to how to raise sons to respect women, but instilling the value of gender equality from birth means that our sons will be better equipped to operate in a world where women are increasingly and rightfully in positions of power. I can only hope that by planting seeds which grow into the movement that will.

~Eunice Musiime

Society

Restoring the leadership position of the first born child.

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If you are a firstborn child in your family, undoubtedly your upbringing profoundly deferred from the rest of your siblings. The privileges and responsibilities were drawn from religious, cultural, and social norms. For instance, in most of our cultural and legal frameworks, the firstborn were the ones who received a double inheritance and would inherit the father’s role as the head of the family.

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Development, Society

Leadership: You can’t give what you don’t have

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Uganda is engulfed with growing public outcry and heightened conversations about the deteriorating state of leadership at all levels –family, community and national. It is a known fact that the prized values cherished over the years like integrity, authenticity, service, courage, and nationalism are grossly lacking in many of our current leaders.

At the national level; the President, cabinet, parliament and the judiciary have been severally condemned for having lost it. So to speak in today’s lingo. For instance the 10th parliament in comparison to previous sessions has fallen to record lows. The political parties seem to be walking on a very steep slippery slope to disintegration. The civil society is grappling with questions of legitimacy and transparency. The religious leaders have not fared any better, in that they are re-defining holiness.

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Society

Who are your ride or die friends?: Keys to cultivating lasting friendships!

At a recent gathering of leaders, we were challenged to consider whether in our life journey, we have intentionally cultivated relationships with at least four people who we would consider our do or die friends. Ride or die friends are the kind who will be present by your side at the most critical of moments. The kind who will defend you in your absence like their life depended on it. The kind who will not fear to tell the truth as it is when necessary.

They’re the ones who are there through thick and thin, over months and years and decades, across miles and surrounded by memories. That kind of deep, lasting friendship is one of the most beautiful gifts in life.

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