(Oranjestad)—As it is already known, the International Women’s Day celebrated every March 8th has the purpose to promote equality for women in all walks of life and to also put an end to gender violence. It is no secret that there lies a difference between the education of young boys and young girls in our culture.
Our reporter approached the Education Shop to explain a bit about how education in our culture is different for boys and girls. Rhomyko Winklaar, director of the Education Shop, along with social work intern Elisa Zievinger shared that it is true that there exists a culture on Aruba where boys are considered to have more freedom than girls.
“Every year we see boys get in trouble with the law, for example. Girls too, but the rates are much lower. This is because boys’ brains develop much later compared to girls’,” he stated.
Furthermore, it has been noted that more young women are continuing their studies after high school and are going further in life compared to young men. This is considered an emancipation of sorts, where key positions are taken by women, or new positions are being filled by women. Aruba has the example of the prime minister, who is the first female prime minister in Aruban political history.
However, Aruba mirrors South America in terms of the “Machismo” (Manliness) that plays a huge role in family dynamics, as Winklaar stated. Many times, men have more to say than women, men have more sexual partners and even more families. “That is what the children see, but we have to consider that when a mother is left with the children, she takes on the primary role as parent, a position which should be filled equally by both mother and father.”
But often times we see absent father within the family dynamic: they go to work and then they go drink at bars with friends or go do their hobbies and are barely home. As a result, the mother is left with the task of taking care of the children. Often times “machista” men are raised largely by just their mothers and “it is the mother herself who creates their mentally, because there is no father present to correct or guide the children. However, fathers often do permit certain things for boys especially, and that is where we the differences in how boys and girls are raised,” he expressed.
It is normal for us to see young boys of 16 and 17 years of age partying around, but in terms of girls of the same age, they do not have the same type of freedom. “We often ask ourselves: How can that be? This isn’t normal. There is a big gap between boys and girls but we are seeing girls having a bit more freedom at a younger age.”
In terms of development, it has been observed that girls are receiving their first sets of rules at an even younger age—at 9 or 10 years old, when it used to be 13 or 14 years old. Nowadays, girls are not only developing faster physically, but also mentally, and young girls are often much more mature than their male counterpart.
Furthermore, there has been a shift in career paths, where once it was common for young men to choose careers where they would be performing “heavy” physical activity, and young women to choose “softer” careers in sales or office work. However, young women are slowly also choosing heavy careers too, like construction.
Both men and women have work within the household. However in Aruba, there is the tendency to see children being raised without a father. However, there has been a rise in mothers abandoning their children with their father. “We can call these children emotional orphans. We are seeing a transition from absent father being seen as normal to a new shift where roles are reversed, because men have more work now. We have to put more emphasis on this so we can help the children,” he stated.
For this, Winklaar thinks we need to take a step back and consider what is equality? What are the things that need to be brought forth in order to achieve it? “Don’t we want to be treated equally? Don’t we treat others equally? Where it’s frowned upon for young women to do certain things young men do, it’s important that we give them a fair chance, regardless of gender. It’s important to give them a chance to grow in life and to experience professional success; to give them the freedom to choose and to guide them when needed.” Winklaar finalized.
Education of gender equality does not mean ignoring the differences between men and women in terms of physique, but these differences are not sufficient grounds to base their rights, chances at opportunities and decisions solely because of their sex and gender.
That’s why it is important for parents to try to implement values of equality and respect within the household, to allow their kids to choose their own paths, to allow boys to be vulnerable. We have to also give girls more access to more resources, especially technology, and it is important that parents stand up against discriminatory attitudes, sexism and lack of respect.