Feminism isn’t about hating boys. It is about eliminating the gender stereotypes. “A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ is not much relevant, where everyone can be themselves.”

“When God created man and woman, he was thinking, ‘Who shall I give the power to, to give birth to the next human being?’ And God chose woman. And this is the big evidence that girls are powerful.” But what about boys? Are they not important? Are they not worthy? Will anyone ever take a stand for boys?

Very Good morning one and all present here. Admirable Judges, Esteemed distinguished guests and all my beneficiary students present here. I am Lucifer Chase, presenting today a very inspirable, debatable, young mind ignited and burning topic “Does Empowerment of Girls, Dis-empower the Boys”

March 8 marked International women’s Day, a celebration of girls worldwide that dates back to 1977 when the UN General Assembly challenged its members to declare a day for girl’s rights and world peace. On this day from social media to television, everything is flooded with catchy slogans and messages on empowering girls. But I ask you my friend do you even know when is international men’s day? It is on 19th of November. But the point is why does not it create the same hype and the same enthusiasm? It is because we don’t even think of empowering boys because we think they are the alpha of this society and don’t need it. But is it so my friend? Post 21st century the table has been flipped. Today girls have numerous rights in her favour and why wouldn’t they have? Girls are also equal. But the problem is while empowering girls we have completely left out boys from the equation itself.

Let me tell you a story first. When I was in Kindergarten our class had decided to perform a play in the annual function. Our teacher asked us which character they want to perform. Many girls requested to play a male character. Our teacher appreciated it very much and gave them a bar of chocolate each. Inspired by this when my turn came I requested a female character for my innocent self back then. And instead of appreciating me the whole class laughed at me. Have you seen the difference? It has become commonplace to tell our daughters they can be anything they want: tomboy, doctor, mother, lawyer or soldier. But we’re less apt to do that for our sons, who we discourage from choices that are considered feminine.

Boys are critically judged and assessed - by themselves, by their peers, by their elders and by most girls themselves - based on the dominant ideals of manhood. And across many societies, this still means being tough, being strong. It also means achieving something, as terms such as “man-up” suggest, and many boys, including low-income boys, struggle with this societal expectation. If boys can’t achieve and don’t conform to these societal expectations, they are often socially sanctioned, belittled or ridiculed. Challenging norms and behaviours is thus a collective challenge for boys. It is also a challenge for girls, who consciously or unconsciously often perpetuate these same social norms in the way they raise their sons or interact with boys.

We must empower Boys and Girls. Of course, not in the conventional sense by giving boys more power over girls or favouring girls more. Rather, by empowering boys to challenge prevailing norms and change their behaviours. Girl empowerment must not mean not letting girls play with dolls. It simply means that dolls are just one of the many things girls can play with. Similarly, it must not scoff at boys who play with dolls. This is logical even though it has not been the prevailing approach. Gender is a “system” and both girls and boys are integral parts of this system. If we want to see meaningful change, both boys and girls are implicated. It is not enough to enlighten and empower girls and expect boys to follow.

Conclusion: Let’s change our dialogue. Let’s change our thought process. Let’s change our behaviour. Let’s build up our girls and our boys, not instead of our girls at the expense of our boys. Let’s just treat everyone fairly. We have to address the misconception that empowering boys means you have to dis-empower girls or vice versa. That’s a myth. It’s a misconception. Empowering one empowers all. Empowering girls empower boys, children, families and ultimately the entire society. At last I can say - Feminism is not about making girls strong, girls in our present society are already strong. It is about changing the way the world perceives their strength.

As Gloria Steinem says,

“I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.”

Thank you.