Textbook definition of Gender-Equality would be, both men and women enjoying the same rights and opportunities across all the acknowledged arenas of the society. The hopes and aspirations of both are also equally valued.
Can we hope to raise our children to be gender sensitive? How do we ensure such a home? Is there a set or a time-tested plan for that, really?
Before we can even aim to do so, we need to question ourselves, if we have achieved gender-equal relationships. If we, as life partners, are in sync with each other’s roles, goals and outlooks in life. Are our respective partners, the wind beneath our wings or are they socking the wind out of our sails?
Also, do we as women, have equal say and participation, in the important matters of our marital lives, whether it is financial, medical, political or emotional? How involved are we in the decision-making? Or, are we, eternally seeking permissions and validations even for smallest of things?
When we walk the path of life as equal partners, we would have achieved the goal of gender equality.
Young children and their impressionable minds are open sponges. They absorb what they fathom. They imbibe what they see around in their immediate surroundings – their first school which is their home! When they grow up in households where gender equality is a habit of nature, a daily way of life, they do not need to be specifically trained. It then simply becomes part of their system- As easy and regular as breathing or eating.
But not all relationships are lucky enough to be on equal footing. What does one do then? How do we raise the next-gen to be caring and sensitive yet strong?
Again, it all boils down to leading by example.
Household chores would be a good starting point.
When mothers, establish some ground rules that there are no girl-chores or boy-chores and both genders must be equally responsible and sensitive to their immediate surroundings and tasks around, we would have achieved some progress. Accountability is a must and so is involving the children in the decision making process.
The dreams of both girls and boys should be given equal importance and impetus. No doubt an uphill task especially if the relationship is a bit skewed.
But success never comes easy, does it?
Also, we moms, should get rid of these pet phrases from our daily exchanges.
“Dear boy! Don’t you wear pink! That is a girl’s color!!”
“Hey Girl! Sit properly! With your legs crossed!!”
“Don’t think so much lassie! Just toe the line!”
“Oh Boy! How many times have I told you not to play with pots and pans? Do you want to end up cooking for your wife when you grow up?”
“She is a girl Na, so she cannot understand Math that easily!”
“Why are you playing football in the mud girl? Who will marry you when you grow up all dark?”
“We are saving for his overseas degree and for her marriage!”
We should be careful enough not to utter even in jest, because sometimes, these harmless jibes leave indelible impressions on young minds. These seemingly innocuous statements, then seep in surreptitiously under the skin and reinforce the discriminating mindsets and age-old biases.
I’m happy to report that my husband is my friend first and both my kids are completely house-trained.
While we endeavor to raise gender-sensitive kids, let us also raise a gentleman and a lady!
Heaven knows, the world needs them in big numbers, right now.
Anupama Jain is the Founding member & Admin of SeniorSchoolMoms ( a Facebook Group). She is an avid blogger, a tutor and a contributing author