To understand the importance of Gender Equality, we need to first go through the data mentioned below.
As per the latest data, India’s literacy rate is 73.2%. There is no denying that our country’s literacy rate has definitely improved over the years, but we still have 313 million illiterate people, which includes 59% of the women population. (Source: India Data Labs @ Observer Research Foundation, National Sample Survey Organisation, Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), July 2017- June, 2018.)
Gender discrimination is one of the causes behind this alarming data, along with economic disparities, social disparities, caste discrimination and technological barriers.
Thus, when the women population in India comprised of approx. 50%, it becomes far-reaching to prioritise “gender equality”.
Every child has the right to reach its full potential irrespective of his/her gender, and Inequality hinders their growth. Most of the time it’s the girl child that has to face all the consequences.
To sum up, Gender Equality is important in order:
- To understand our rights and fight for them.
- To not differentiate toys on the basis of gender but usage, utility, and learning.
- To explore social and economic opportunities based on potential.
- To minimize crimes against women.
- To reduce the female infanticide rate.
- To encourage both boys and girls to enjoy the freedom of speech, movement, marriage, work, and social relationships.
- To avoid restricting a girl’s growth due to deeply entrenched patriarchal views, norms, traditions, and structures.
- To create a safe environment for girls and boys to express their feelings.
- To show our children that just like their male counterparts, there are many female leaders also, who serve as role models and raise educational and career aspirations for adolescent girls and their parents.
- Last but not the least, Gender equality is important for the Socio-Economic development of our country.
Gender inequality is a nationwide social issue. We are home to some people who still see the birth of a girl child in dismay. Even our orphanages are full of girl children who are mostly abandoned or surrendered.
Thus, it is the need of the hour to bring a drastic change in the mindset of our society and remove the ingrained prejudices that damage India’s growth. What is required is a concerted effort to sensitize the society in eradicating this issue of gender inequality. It is high time that every child is treated equally and given every opportunity required to grow to his/her full potential.
“HOW PARENTS INFLUENCE CHILD’S GENDER ROLES?”
To start with, the moment a child is born to a family, parents, and relatives start “dreaming” about their future immediately. If it’s a boy, the mother says “Mera Beta Engineer Banega”, and for girls “Iski Shaadi bade ghar mein karwaungi”. The problem is, gender inequality is at the very heart of the Indian culture and value system.
Conditioning early childhood by gender, is something most parents exhibit unknowingly, and it has long term influences on children’s social development. A child’s idea of right or wrong during the initial years mainly emerges from parents. And when our children are made to acknowledge gender differences at an early age, it leads to discrimination which they may exhibit in their attitude towards people around them.
Sometimes it’s we parents, who are adamant to follow certain gender roles at home and outside, and expect our children to do so, failing to which they are corrected or even scolded. So every time a child deviates from what is considered a “normal ” gendered behaviour, he or she is met with resistance from his or her parents, and the child, in turn, bullies another friend who behaves differently.
Children can be sensitised only when their parents and elders are sensitized too. But how does that happen?
- Parents can stop encouraging children to participate in gender-stereotypical play, like gifting dolls to girls and remote operated cars to boys. Instead let the children decide what they want to play with.
- Another way to curb gender conservative roles is by sharing household chores based on the child’s physical capability and interest.
- Next time when our sons are aggressive, we don’t attribute it with “Boys will be boys”. Aggressions have nothing to do with masculinity.
- Boys should not be looked at as “future” bread earners of the family, while girls should not be treated as “she will anyway move out after marriage”. One of the reasons behind it, is most Indian parents do not plan their old age properly, hence the son is seen as economic security, because the daughter is moving to another house.
- Another factor to be kept in mind is, the difference in treatment by parents towards their children. While being warm and lenient is considered the right way to treat a girl, being harsh, and the firm is the right way to punish a boy. Studies have shown that parents respond less negatively to a son’s risky and disruptive behavior. This is consistent with the stereotype, that boys are risk-takers and challenging, but girls are usually sober, humble, and nice to others.
The lack of acceptance of gender diversity stems from ignorance, indifference, and deep-rooted conditioning. Acceptance and Inclusion is the key to promote gender equality at home. It’s time to accept a boy swirling around a Barbie, and a girl repairing a battery-operated toy car. What matters is how happy our children are.
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