Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, says it is critical that men and boys have outlets not only to learn about gender equity and positive gender representation, but to be able to address their hurts and pains, and be transparent about their feelings.
“It is now [important], more than ever, we challenge society’s definition of masculinity, and realise that manhood and boyhood is not all about being ‘machismo’ and control. It is about showing love, equity and respect for everyone, and acting in this way is not a sign of weakness but a signal of true strength,” Nzimande said.
Addressing a roundtable on youth health and wellness in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector at Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg, on Monday, Nzimande said society must challenge the status quo of masculinity, so that society can break the cycle of gender stereotypes and have a more equitable and less gender-biased society.
Nzimande said he has requested Higher Health and its CEO, Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia, to come up with a concept and programme on how to engage and involve young men in the higher education sector on gender equality and women’s emancipation.
“I intend to lead from the front on this score, and I will be engaging trade union leaders, student leaders, vice-chancellors and college principals, and all other leaders where young men are, to engage them on women’s emancipation and gender equality,” Nzimande said.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has prioritised the issue of engaging the boy child and young men in the struggle for gender equality.
“Gender is about both women and men, and gender relations are about the relationship between men and women. We must not make the mistake of equating gender only to women, as this will hamper the mobilisation of both men and women in fighting for gender equality,” Nzimande said.
Extra mural curriculum on civic education
Meanwhile, Nzimande said he has discussed extensively with Ahluwalia that Higher Health must include an extra mural curriculum on civic education amongst its focus areas, as part of intervention mechanisms to ensure that women’s rights for an equal future are realised.
The Minister said the development of this country lies in an education system that permits good performance of students, and “safe custody of these students in residences that are free of crime and any racial prejudice”.
He said that over half a million students joined the civic peer-to-peer education curriculum every year.
“This is the hope of building well-rounded adults by using education as a tool for empowerment, building civic values, teaching peer education, building volunteerism, whilst empowering them on issues plaguing our communities like, gender-based violence, sexual reproductive health, HIV, mental health, gender diversity and racial tolerance,” Nzimande said.
He said civic education will help to address, amongst others, gender- based violence in institutions; greater contributions of men as gender equality advocates, and racial tolerance in institutions, for both employees and students.
Source: South African Government News Agency