In an effort to help men think about gender equity at home, Sierra Leone's Education Minister Dr. David Moinina Sengeh posted a photo that has now gone viral.
In a move to encourage people to think about gender equity while everyone works from home, Sierra Leone Education Minister Dr. David Moinina Sengeh carried his adorable daughter on his back when attending an important work call on the video conferencing application Zoom. In his country, women carry their children on their backs all the time. However, it was incredibly rare to see a man doing the same. Soon after the meeting was completed, he took to Twitter to share an image of himself carrying his child. He hoped the photo would inspire more fathers to pick up traditionally "feminine" responsibilities while working from home, the BBC reports.
Minister Dr. Sengeh started his business call while feeding his daughter and completed the rest of his call while carrying her on his back. "As leaders, we don't usually present our families in government," he said in the BBC Global News Podcast. "The President also has a young daughter who is about five now. I remember, two years ago, we were both talking about our daughters in the office, and either he said or I said, 'Every leader should have a two-year-old.'" He claimed it was about showing empathy to women. Dr. Sengeh continued, "We think the world has changed for the better but we still have a long way to go when we talk about gender equity, the role of parents, and women at the workplace."
Taking to Twitter, he posted a sweet photo of himself carrying his daughter. The Minister stated, "Working from home? How did you join your last Zoom call? As Minister, I started my last call feeding my 10-month-old, then carried her on my back for the rest of the call. The presentations helped her sleep. I invite you to share with the world how you worked from home as a leader." Though Dr. Sengeh has become quite a bit of a rebel in his community, his actions have forced people to think about how they view the shared responsibilities of parenting. The tweet, of course, has since gone viral - but he believes it's only become so popular because he's a man.
"Many women do this daily, but it is so normalized that we don't talk about it at all. If it was my wife who did it then this would not have been a viral tweet," Dr. Sengeh stated. "I have friends who have never ever changed a diaper and they have several children, and they don't even understand how that is possible... [The image] forces men to think about themselves, it shows them that it is possible to take care of their child." He has since been praised as a role model. Sierra Leonean women's rights campaigner Nemata Majeks-Walker told the BBC, "He is a role model to other men in Sierra Leone and in Africa. He is somebody who does not believe that it is only a woman who should take care of her children."
In Sierra Leone, much like in other parts of the world, patriarchy is deeply rooted in the country's culture. For instance, more girls than boys drop out of education before the end of high school, as Minister Dr. Sengeh noted. However, he is working towards establishing policies that would lead to the "radical inclusion" of girls so they continue their education. He was also instrumental in overturning a ban on pregnant girls attending school. Slowly but surely, the Minister's actions will encourage more families in the African nation to view boys and girls on equal footing. His adorable photo with his 10-month-old daughter is just the start.
"On March 30, 2020, President Julius Maada Bio and Education Minister, David Moinina Sengeh announced the immediate end to the school ban against pregnant girls and teenage mothers in place since 2010."- @hrw #ArudiShule #ElimuBilaUbaguzi pic.twitter.com/sDXO9yNdMs— Hellen Sisya (@hellen_sisya) April 3, 2020