Kyros Echaporia is a 9th grade student studying in Vibgyor High school in Pune. He listens to music and reads in his spare time. He loves putting his thoughts down on paper. Currently, he is a member of the Vibgyor High Student Social Responsibility Cell and the Vibgyor High Greaders Club.
Inequality gets learned, Equality needs teaching
Since patriarchy is still present in families, in our mind-set and our laws we have accepted the current social situation as default. A key factor driving gender inequality is the preference for sons, as they are deemed more useful than girls. Boys are given the exclusive rights to inherit the family name and properties. They are viewed as additional status for their family. Although we are so cosmopolitan today, in families daughters are entitled to far less than sons. Daughters are told at an early age to behave like “girls”, help out in the house-hold chores in order to prepare them for their future families. Boys within the same families, observe this and expect their wives and daughters to do the same. Hence, this is a continuous cycle, which if not broken will never end inequality.
Parents and educational institutions have to take steps to encourage gender diversity in society for both boys and girls. At an early age children learn to stereotype through about toys, skills and activities that are typically associated with each gender. Within the family, we also learn to attribute certain qualities to women and men, such as that men are aggressive and women are emotional, Men are “Bread winners” and women are “home makers” etc. Stereotyping also happens with basic necessities like clothing, girls see little choice other than pink and ‘cute’ and boys see no other choice than blue or grey and ‘rough and tumble’ in the departmental stores. This gender stereotyping continues to be reinforced “every hour of every day” online, on television and in games, songs and books. “And because the adults in these children’s lives see and perpetuate the same messages, gender stereotyping continues to be reinforced in our homes and classrooms.
Parents and teachers should make sure they are not reinforcing traditional gender roles. Girls can be the bread winner and boys can do dishes. Let both boys and girls know it’s okay to express and discuss their feelings and emotions and to cry when they are sad.
So from day one, parents and educators should provide daughters and sons with toys and books where girls and boys are heroes and have adventures and select clothing for girls and boys that doesn’t sync up with what society dictates.
Gender equality is rising all across India and around the world. The political landscape has been equalized to a great extent already. Changes are appearing and women are playing important roles in society. Gender equality is not far away if we each do our bit at home within our families to teach equality to children.
Opinions are of the writer.