Boys in Namibia are most likely to end up in prison, committing suicide, or dropping out of school if only a few efforts are made to empower them.
This is according to Love Inc., a local organization that initiated the second annual Boys Conference, to empower boys at Walvis Bay.
Co-founded by Tangeni Mujoro, the recently established Love Inc. organization exists to help communities deal with social ills.
"Blue Project" also focuses on the role boys play in perpetrating gender-based violence and the reasons behind the abuse.
The Annual Boys Conference targets boys between the ages of 13 and 19, and this is where they are sensitized about the GBV conversation.
"We have a continuous annual program that runs throughout the year where we come together with a smaller number of boys at the moment, due to, you know, what resources can cater, and we workshop with these boys; we don't bombard them with presentations in the sessions, we workshop deeply with them, we coach, we mentor, and we also do education support and exchange programs to help sort of broaden their world view,' explained Mujoro on the purpose of the workshop.
The Boys Conference further provides a platform where men open up and share their personal experiences with the boys.
"We feel we want to be authentic; we don't want pre-written and rehearsed statements or speeches to be done. We want men within our community to come and share from their hearts with the boys because we know how many homes don't have fathers."
For the boys who attended, it was a learning experience. This is what some boys had to say.
"It's really helpful because when we are taught about gender-based violence, usually we are just told that no, as a man, you should not hit a woman, but we really don't know what that personally means; we are just told don't hit a woman, and we don't know the reason why, even though sometimes they are the ones who force us to do it, but then after joining the project, we learned that everyone has their own perspective. So it does not always mean that if she is wrong, I am right, or if she is right then I am wrong. So personally, this project inspired me a lot," said Brion Daniel of his experience.
"This project has really changed me throughout the year because we used to stay on the streets and we used to bully the girls, but only until we had this topic of gender-based violence, it changed me because usually men, grow up in houses where gender-based violence is mainly high and our mothers get beaten, and we think that is the right way, but that is not," said Tonias Paulus.
Of the 679 suicide cases recorded between 2021 and 2022, 560 were men and boys.