Pilot Project: Empowering boy-children to become better men in society

In efforts to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Five (5) to achieve gender equality, The Women Leaders South Africa (WLSA) Foundation in partnership with Child Welfare Tshwane (CWT) piloted the Boys Empowered Project (BEP) to help build a society of emotionally stable boys with values, boundaries, and healthy relationships with themselves and others. The programme also aims to create a safe environment for boy-children to engage, learn and practice age-appropriate tools that will increase their individual sense of self, gender inclusivity, ability to communicate confidently and encourage resilience and community building. The 1st of May 2021 marked the launch of the BEP and the 1st session of the Girls Empowered Project (GEP) in 2021.

GEP Beneficiaries

In June 2020 the WLSA Foundation together with CWT launched the GEP pilot to empower young girls and the youth of Atteridgeville with knowledge and skills that will not only change the trajectory of their lives but that of their community as well. We also address topics of gender-based violence (GBV), femicide, self-love, and sufficiency. Since our inception, we have impacted 30 young girls between the ages of 15-19, providing each of the beneficiaries with dignity packs-bi monthly.

Realizing that boy-children are often excluded in interventions aimed at empowering society and addressing topics such as GBV, femicide, and sexual assaults, it was essential to include the boy-children/males as well when working towards achieving gender inclusivity and equality. 

Facilitators Training
Facilitators Training

The planning of the BEP and GEP involved a lot of research to ensure we provide a concrete and informative curriculum for our programmes. We recruited male facilitators who have previously worked with boy-children, to ensure the BEP beneficiaries relate to them and understand their experiences. We ensured that all the facilitators undergo the facilitators training with Dr. Charley Pietersen, who is the founder and author of Growing Up Without a Father to give us more insight on how to make our programme more informative, enjoyable and relatable to the beneficiaries.

The BEP and GEP run simultaneously, with each group having their designated classroom to allow them to relate with their fellow peers and share their experiences, however, the curriculum allows for the BEP and GEP beneficiaries to meet when addressing topics that seek both female and male interventions.

Group Discussions
We aim to encourage dialogues through authentic communication that encourages listening, learning, and innovative solutions. The beneficiaries were broken into smaller groups to discuss and share their opinions about the society and culture’s view of both genders, find out what challenges boys and girls encounter and what their needs are.

Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, a 16-year- old male from the BEP said “We need to be allowed to meet with the girls once in a while to understand their experiences, we need to know what they think, what they go through, and how they do things and they also need to understand our experiences”. Another 15-year-old BEP beneficiary said, “We need to be loved, we need our parents to express their love towards us and recognize us the way they recognize the girls”.

We believe that allowing the beneficiaries the platform to share their challenges and needs will assist us in ensuring the programmes are sustainable, work towards meeting their needs and addressing the challenges they encounter as young girls and boys from a disadvantaged community to ensure that their lives are impacted positively.