• How diversity as an idea is evolving by Sarika Bhattacharya

    “Mom, we won the match!” shouted my 10 year old son as he got home from school. “Akshi was too cool. She took the last goal in the last 4 minutes to spare”.

    I was pleasantly surprised to hear him raving about his team mate who is a girl playing in his school soccer team. This gave me hope and made me think how times have changed. While I was growing up, girls were expected to play with dolls and playing with the “boys” in a football field was unthinkable. Gender norms have blurred over the years and have created space for both girls and boys to explore their creative self without any cultural inhibitions. Games and activities offer a fun way for young children to learn about differences and similarities among people and to introduce the concept of diversity – which is all about accepting and respecting the differences.

    Gender norms have blurred over the years and have created space for both girls and boys to explore their creative self without any cultural inhibitions

    As social realities change, perceptions of just what non-discrimination looks like have also evolved. The mainstream media have started portraying modern women as strong women making pro career choices even during pregnancy (Tanishq advertisement). This is a welcome change from women seen as stereotypical housewives or damsels in distress. Men are shown as equal partners in household work and championing women in their choices. The legal framework is also making strides in the right direction. The new maternity policy which made grant of 6 months Maternity leave compulsory for all organizations, has made possible for many women to continue with their career aspirations. This policy is also a significant message for women to be recognized as an economic force.

    While changes are visible, there is still long way to go for a truly inclusive society. We celebrate the spirit of diversity in India with various cultures, festivals and religions, but it would have been more meaningful if we could celebrate different ideologies and differences. Today, many countries, including Brazil, Taiwan, Finland and Spain, recognize same-sex partnerships, while others offer legal protections for children born out of wedlock and for single-parent families. This is still unthinkable in India. Article 377 is still a sore point of debate and also a tool for discrimination.

    The new maternity policy which made grant of 6 months Maternity leave compulsory for all organizations, has made possible for many women to continue with their career aspirations. This policy is also a significant message for women to be recognized as an economic force.

    Diversity as an idea also has to evolve with the times. I am hoping that by the time our kids grow up – they will not question race, religion, nationality or gender. Its no longer just about gender equality – but it’s about Human equality. Its about respecting one human being to another. Its about inclusion which is truly meant for all.