As a gender advocate, people have come up to me to ask why I don’t advocate for men. I tell them that my advocacy has always been based on my reality. By my reality, I mean the issues I know about (by through experience and by virtue of reading stories, books and articles) and the issues I can easily relate to as a person. I am female and I believe that it is actually easier for people to be passionate about something they have a vast or an in-depth knowledge about. But although my own advocacy is not usually centred or focused on men, I am quick to applaud and shed light on men who have taken up the gauntlets and are advocating for men/the boy-child. Recently, I was privileged to interview Joseph, a leadership and management professional. In this interview, he takes us through his journey as an advocate for the boy-child. He shares what inspired him to begin advocacy, how it has been so far and what challenges he has faced and how he has been able to deal with them. This is the second edition.
Can we meet you, please?
Joseph Okunmuyide is a Leadership and Management professional. He graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University. He is a Human resource enthusiastic who is passionate about making a difference. He works currently as the Human resource professional for RICHBAM GROUP. He volunteers for different organizations and sees it as a contribution to the growth of humanity. His passion for the development of the girl child resonated in his mind that there is a need to fill a void, which is to see to the development of the Boy-Child. He is the founder of Joseph Okunmuyide and Friends Foundation that gives support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children and also supports adolescent young people.
In a world whereby men rarely organize programs for boys or men, but we hear complains that women do a lot of girls, what inspired you to start a project for the boys?
I volunteered for an organization that got funding in relation to female Genital mutilation and development of the girl-child and here and there, I discovered that to create support for the girl child development, there is a need to create a societal balance which spurred me to start advocating for the boy child. Also, as the only male in my family, at some point, I was left to develop on my own. The focus was placed more on my female siblings. Although I was also trained, the attention I was given was not as detailed as that of my siblings. Also, growing up I realized that men also cry. I have cried a lot because of challenges I can’t admit to be facing and crises I can’t speak up for because of the mentality that I need to be strong as the stronger sex. This formed my passion to help young boys grow through mentorship and consistent back up relating to giving advice and acting as a support system.
How has been the reception so far over the years from boys you have impacted?
It has been an amazing experience getting to see young champions like taking charge and going after everything we discussed, but the most emotional part of me are:
1. When they record success, they inform me and are grateful for the knowledge passed, this to me gives regular goose bumps as I feel great knowing that I am a part of people’s life
2. The fact that they get to talk to me when they hit the ground. This is the support system I hoped to create and them coming back when they run into issues, makes it make sense for me and of course, I am always ready to help or I refer them to people within my circle of influence I go to for help when I also hit rock bottom.
Who are your role models in this area?
I really have not met people who I can claim as a role model for the growth of the boy-child, but every passionate girl-child advocate such as Miss Jennifer Way and Ms. Abimbola Aladejare have been my role models for advocacy.
What are your thematic areas of the programs you organize?
1. Capacity development
3. Career development
4. Responsibility as a Male Child
5. Respect and Protection of the girl child
Have you attended other programs before on this before you launched yours? If yes, which programs?
7. What do you hope to achieve with this program?
1. Mental support for Young boys
2. Build a support system for young boys
3. Breed a community of young boys who are leaders and change-makers (You will agree with me that a larger percentage of change-makers are women, this is not to equate the numbers, but to create a consciousness in young boys of the possibility of being a plus and a voice in their generation).
4. Build a conscious men environment in the achievement of We are human first before our sex.
What is your advice for other men who also want to start something like this but don’t know how to?
Generally, it starts from within, if every man can conquer that mentality that men should not support women and that they are the higher sex then we begin the revolution of change. Also, that Men should speak out amidst the crises and problems that we go through every day. We should be able to confide in each other. To make a difference, begin with your locality. It is like they say, “Conquer your locality, Conquer your world.” I started this consciously as an Altar Server in the Catholic church and that has been my major platform over the years. Today, I am grateful for the ability to speak to men and the ability to help people grow.
What is your call to action sentence so that more men will start doing things for boys?
Train One Boy Child at a time, Saves the society of gender imbalance
What is your advice for men who belittle the efforts of women who are passionate about girls?
The strength of ending society menace in leadership and the growth of the nation lies with the conscious effort of us all putting effort to collaborate and ensure that we support each other. The crusade for the girl-child is for us all. We all need to put in our efforts to ensure that the girl-child has access and equal opportunities to career development and they can be anything they desire to be. More importantly, is the mental support as well as the support to end female Genital Mutilation which is still widely done. If men consciously add their voice, this mutilation will end in one generation – our generation.
It has been an incisive and a thoroughly educative one from Joseph. I trust that you have been inspired by this interview to contribute your own quota to advocating for the boy-child. This is very important because, like he pointed out, when we raise the boy-child as much as we raise the girl-child, equality would be achieved very easily and the world would be a better place. So, this is me lending my voice to Joseph Okunmuyide’s to ask every well-meaning man out there to help train one boy child at a time so that we can save the society of gender imbalance. If you would like to know more about or support Joseph Okunmuyide and his organization, you can reach out to him via his social media platforms. Thank you.