Introduce gender-sensitisation curriculum for Class 6 onwards in all schools of India
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The society I grew up in didn’t know the joy of welcoming a newborn into the world, unless it was a son! And how could they? In Haryana, we don’t even have songs to celebrate the birth of a girl , though we celebrate the birth of a boy with such abandon. This doesn’t really irk anybody because the problem of gender bias is normalised to great depths in the minds of people, right from their birth.
I remember how my cousin had to drop out of school when she was 14, and was forced to stay indoors to help her mom with household chores, while boys in the family went to school and played outside. Not once did I or anybody question ‘why did she stop going to school?’ Because we had seen this story repeat itself all around us.
I wish I was as sensitised then, to this tragic turn of events, as I am today.
You see, impressions are formed at a very early stage in a child’s life; these go on to influence behaviour through adulthood. This is exactly why we need to sensitise our children at a very early age – both in school and at home. They need to learn to question practices and traditions, to develop their own thinking, free of bias or prejudice.
I did not want my daughter Pushty to lead a life of discrimination and neglect amidst the baggage of biased perceptions. So, when she was born, I decided to celebrate her birth the same way a boy’s birth is celebrated --by beating a thaali-- a very common practice in Haryana. It sent shockwaves across the community and shook the very foundation of the norm that existed for centuries. But somebody, somewhere had to make a new start and I took that first step.
I strongly believe that all children should be sensitised to the ills of gender stereotypes and discrimination if they are to go on and form part of an equal, society which ensures dignity and freedom for all.
I would therefore along with Breakthrough like to petition Mr. Prakash Javadekar, HRD Minister, GoI to introduce a curriculum for gender sensitisation to all schools in India for students in Classes 6 and above.
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