Balbharati: Rename Chapter on Women and Include More SHEroes #TextbookSHEroes

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A chapter in the Class 9 History textbook published by Balbharati in Maharashtra is titled “The Empowerment of Women and Other Weaker Sections”. My friend who is a teacher showed this to me.

I am shocked.

While it is important to teach children about the struggles for justice and equality of women as well as those of other segments of society, referring to women as “weaker” is counterproductive and promotes stereotypes.

Maharashtra’s chief textbook bureau Balbharati needs to be more responsible with its choice of words as 17 lakh impressionable children are reading these books.

I’ve started this petition asking that Bal Bharati immediately name the chapter “The Struggles of Women and Other Sections” and include more SHEroes - achievers who are women. Sign my petition.

 

SHEroes like Meera Borwankar, Maharashtra’s First Woman IPS Officer. And Savitribai Phule, the social change champion who fought for girl’s education.

There is no shortage of women achievers in Maharashtra or in any other part of India. This is something for each of us - man, woman and other - to be proud of.

Balbharati calling women weak is unfair, unjust, inaccurate and absolutely disrespectful.

The problem is one of portrayal. Either women are absent or are shown as weak in our textbooks. This has got to change.

Young girls need positive role models to look up to. I learnt this when I interviewed hundreds of girls across India for a project about their aspirations. Their responses reminded me of my own childhood.

I grew up in the city of dreams Mumbai without any dreams of my own.  have always been very patriotic but I never thought of joining the army, I loved kabaddi but I never knew that I could become a player and I loved cars but I never thought I could become a racer.

My brother on the contrary had dreams about becoming an astronaut, a kabaddi player, start a great business and literally conquer the world.

We had the same upbringing, schooling and opportunities. The difference was that our textbooks gave him role models but not me.

I want every girl in Maharashtra to have women role models/SHEroes to look up to who can aspire them to have dreams and aspirations.

Textbooks leave the biggest impression on girls while growing up. Balbharati has been shaping minds for over 50 years.

If it takes the small step of profiling even 10 women achievers from different fields in textbooks for classes 4 to 8, it will make a huge difference.

Sign this petition today so that Balbharati delivers a gender-just textbook for the new academic session 2019-20.

Lakhs of girls will grow up with aspirations and each one will make #HERstory in her own way.