Opinions on the role of men and women in the society are, more often than not, manifestations of the environment in which children are raised. Most of these views are influenced by those prevailing in the family – parents or grandparents and uncles and aunts – willingly or otherwise, determine how a child thinks about the opposite sex as an adult.
We spoke with some new-age parents and asked them what we can do to inculcate respect for identities in their children..and here’s what they had to say…
Priyanka Bose, Actor
“I am always open for a conversation about gender equality with my daughter. She is at an age where she feels boys are weird as they are made “differently”. She feels empowered in her being a girl and also learning to understand that we are indeed fighting for an equal world. She is curious and is most accepting of a relationship that is “different” from the unit she knows at home. She is surrounded by my friends who are in a same-sex relationship, taking care of her and educating her just as her parents would. We allow her that privilege. It is wonderful to see an accepting and growing community of people, accepting the love of all kinds. These are the morals our kids will be most grateful for. That discrimination does not exist on the basis of someone choosing their own identity. It should be taught in school.”
Payal Tyagi, Founder, Indie Eco Candles
“I think most “gender roles” as we traditionally know them are changing in Metro Cities at least. A lot of women are choosing to step out and get jobs. You hear more and more of “stay-at-home” Dads who don’t think twice about being the primary caregivers to children while their wives are bringing in the money. The next generation of kids is growing up observing this. Most parents I meet these days are also very careful not to perpetuate the broad generalizations like ” don’t cry like a girl” etc. We are aware now of the damage such words can cause to the psyche of both girls and boys alike. ”
Simran Gosal Bhullar, Chief Designer, Anaha Jewellery Design Attic
“We should draw inferences from our great civilization about gender in terms of its duality that is present in each one of us. We all have both masculine and feminine facets to each one our personalities based on ardh nari and ardh purush as embodied by Lord Shiva. You can’t separate these male and female qualities in watertight compartments. In order to raise sensitive, humane children the acceptance of both attributes are essential by parents, teachers and the world at large. The more we view each other as a person rather than based on gender we will eradicate a lot of preconceived notions about the personality of a person. We will allow our children to explore their phenomenal potential without these preconceived notions of how they should be, think or act based on a gender bias they live with the moment they are conceived .”
Vinod Dua, Journalist and Social Commentator
“I have not taught my daughters anything. They have a mind of their own. And actually, coming to think of it, that is sensitization and that is what all parents, everybody should aim for. Tagore’s lines – ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high…’ sum up sensitization and education on gender equality to me.”
Riddhima Kapoor Sahni, Designer and Homemaker
“The popular meaning of the term equality is that all men and women are equal and all should be entitled to identity of treatment and income and this is what I firmly believe in and shall pass the same on to my children. Over the years,there has been a great effort made with respect to gender equality. Societies have slowly but steadily changed their views on women working alongside men in various public and private companies which had been male-dominated territories previously. As India strives to improve overall social and economic conditions and gender relations through policies such as the abolishment of dowry, increasing the legal age at marriage and promoting educational opportunities for girls , serious challenges still remain at large in rural areas. As I mentioned earlier I want my children to know and to believe that men and women are both equal with equal rights and are entitled to an identity of treatment and income. Every human being must be treated an equal irrespective of caste class religion etc”.
by Aarti Kapur Singh