It is generally known that there is gender bias with boys being favoured. Nothing wrong with desiring certain gender in the household, humans desires are sometimes shaped by experience. We just have to be careful the way we relate to our ‘favourite’ gender based child in a way that he/she did not grow up with false hope of what real life has in store.
I have witnessed with interest how many of us are raising our boys especially around domestic chores. The culture especially in patriarchal Yorubaland is that daughters are the one that bear the responsibility of household chores, this include and not limited to cooking, laundering, shopping and the likes while quite acceptably boys are allowed to spend his time playing about. And of course this is not true for all Yoruba families but for the most part the practice is the norm.
My 22 years old niece is home for a couple of weeks. As we talked on the phone, she was busy between preparing dinner for the family and at same time looking after her mother’s shop. “Where is your brother”? I asked. “Playing football down the road.” It would have been very nice if Tomi could manned the shop so Janet can focus on preparing the family dinner but the issue here is Tomi is 15 years old and he has never been taught to help with household chores not even fetching water or washing up his own clothes – my sister does everything, she gets help from her daughter when home for holidays – she has three boys and a girl.
Lola is a good friend of mine, she has a boy and a girl and lived in London, UK. I once visited her at home when Wale her first child was ten years old. A few minutes after dinner, Wale disappeared into the kitchen. When I asked where he was, “in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes,” Lola told me. My admiration for Lola grew ten folds instantly because I knew she was raising a child that will grow up to be a pride both to himself and the people around him. It is impressive to see a diasporean adapting to the culture of their adopted home – taking advantage of teaching their boys importance being all-rounder.
Speaking with my sister the next day, I ask if she thought her daughter who is intelligent, hardworking as well as one of the top 3 students in her school would want to have someone like her brother as a partner/husband in future? My sister realises that time has changed and that people must adapt as well. It is old habit to expect girls to do all household chores while the boys roam about contributing nothing – he’ll grow up wanting to continue just like that thinking all females around owed him.
I have seen lots of improvement in this area in the past decades but we still have a long way to go. A boy who is raised in a household where every child regardless of their gender contribute equally to the household chores is likely to grow up respecting females and their views when earned – haste to add. Then a bit of our job of creating a gender equitable society is done and it all started right from the source – Home
Friends Africa is having a big 2-day event next week on women and girls empowerment in Nigeria, I really do hope that areas of how boys upbringing affect their perspectives and attitude when they turned adult is raised and discussed. Home and society must to work together to create a less gender biased society.