Finding out solutions to problems has been an integral part of human life. It has been a process related to evolution of human life which has grown through ages.
We in Maharshi Patanjali Vidya Mandir, Allahabad, strongly believe that every problem has a solution. The path may be different, in different cases but if we relentlessly try to find out the solution, the solution will itself find us out.
Keeping in mind the present scenario of problems in our country, especially the unfortunate incident of Delhi, we have made efforts to spread awareness amongst students of our school. These students are going to be the torch bearers of our traditions in future. Therefore, it becomes essential for them to know about the value of our traditions and the culturally rich way of living, that India has practiced through centuries.
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Gender sensitization is a major issue in today’s world. In order to spread gender sensitization in our school, we had given an assignment to the students of standard X as one of the activities of the fourth Formative Assessment Examination. The assignment was to carry out a field survey on the topic Gender Bias. Gender Bias was chosen as the topic because we feel it is high time that this major issue be taken up by the society. The society must think and contribute towards the solutions to grievances of half of our population, that is the girls/women. This was given as an activity in standard X because we feel that this is the actual age when the students should start getting aware of the problems related to gender bias. The girls should be aware of their position in the society and boys should be taught to honour the position of girls. Usually the boys are brought up in a carefree manner, which gives them an impression from the beginning, that they have an upper hand over the girls. On the other hand, girls are taught to be docile and submissive which inculcates a feeling of inferiority in them. It has been an observation of a general study that girls have excelled in their respective fields, for example, Kiran Bedi, Lata Mangeshkar, Mother Teresa, Kalpana Chawla, to name a few.
The objective of the activity was to make the students understand the fact that equality is the essence of democracy. Democracy becomes hollow in the absence of equality. Gender equality should be the battle cry of today’s democratic India.
Through the activity, the students touched many issues related to gender equality, like education of girls and boys, equal voting rights, honouring the space of both the genders, to be sensitive towards the problems faced by them etc. The students enthusiastically carried out the survey. They had prepared ten questions each. Full freedom was given to the students to frame their own questions. There was no guideline given by the teachers as to what type of questions should be framed by the students. This was to ensure that whatever questions from whichever area, related to gender equality come in the students’ minds, they should feel free to put up that question to the society. These students have to fend for themselves in the future. Therefore they must be given full freedom to think, ask and clear their queries and doubts. Their thoughts should have a natural flow. It should neither be directed nor diverted by anyone.
The students took those ten questions to various people in the society like parents, siblings, neighbours, teachers, peer group etc. The students had gone even to people like the local shopkeepers, labourers at construction sites and domestic helps. It was a survey that was carried out in the society as a whole which included not only the educated elites but also the uneducated and illiterate people. The survey could only then be complete in the real sense when it had a balanced participation of all the sections of the society irrespective of class, creed, age or gender. The students were told to go to anybody they felt like going to, except the very young children below the age of 8-10 years, as that is not the age when one really thinks seriously about these issues. More importance was given to the questions framed by the students than the answers. The answers were important as a participation of the society at large, whereas the questions projected the actual thinking process of the students.
The activity was announced in the class whereafter ample time was given to the students so that they could really think over the matter, prepare questions and then go and talk to various people, gather their answers and give the presentation its final shape.
The activeness and awareness of the students was evident in the work done by them. It was reported by the students that in some cases they found the people taking very active part and giving sensible responses; in some cases the responses were not up to the expected mark; there were also some people who had never thought about certain situations. But the fact that everybody was aware – may be different people at different levels – was very encouraging for the students. This gave them a hope and incentive to carry forward their assignment with a lot of enthusiasm. The recent mishap of Delhi has created a storm in the minds and hearts of the people and it was writ large on everybody’s responses. Some responses were in favour of a law that would bring about a change; yet some other responses highlighted the fact that a law alone cannot bring about the required change, unless the social setup, especially the mindset of the people is changed. In a country where gender discrimination has been a deep rooted practice, gender equality becomes an issue which should be taken up very cautiously. One wrong step may kick the whole thing off in an altogether wayward and disastrous direction. It would take a lot of time and efforts, but can be finally achieved through a change in the thinking of the people. The overall study revealed that a law and its proper enactment- both are necessary in the process.
This was, may be a small step taken by our school, towards the sensitive issue of gender sensitization, but a beginning, howsoever small, has to be brought about somewhere, somehow. The society has to change. The change cannot be expected to be a sudden one, falling out of the blues like a fairy tale. It has to be a long drawn out process which would require patience, practice, understanding, compassion and it would require the involvement of one and all, in this entire population of India, that runs into crores.
Gender Sensitization in Schools
Gender sensitization and respect towards woman will soon be taught in schools. Union human resource development minister M M Pallam Raju said (on Sunday 13th January 2013 Kochi) that he would talk to NCERT to include these aspects in the national curriculum framework.
This comes amid rising concern that the crimes against women are increasing in the country due to lack of respect for women.
When we were growing up, our role models were our parents and teachers. But today children are exposed to television, their peers and technology and so there are multiple inputs infringing on a child’s mind. So it becomes all the more important to focus on gender awareness and values through the school system.
Education plays an important role in addressing child marriage. If the girl is educated, she knows what is wrong and right for her and her family. The girl should be engaged in education till graduation. Right to Education ( RTE) gives this right to each girl. This will help her in becoming a good human resource.
Sanjay Mishra, member of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR), said there are many girls who are married off at a tender age and then sold to people in different states. Haryana tops the list as far as the number of girls being sold from Jharkhand is concerned. These girls mostly come from Dumka, Deogarh, Jamtara and West Singbhum and are school dropouts.”
RTE will prove to be beneficial in making their life meaningful. “We have also recommended the opening up of two Kasturba Gandhi Schools in each block to the SCPCR,” he said.
With child marriage comes the issue of bigamy which is also widespread here. There are many cases where the girl is not able to conceive and the husband marries other women. Child marriage is thus not an isolated issue.
It also affects the health of the girl child. She suffers from sexually transmitted diseases and is not able to handle the situation. “It’s important to sensitize people rather than criticizing the government. Premature pregnancy is risky for the health of both the mother and child.
The mental make-up of the mother gets affected, which passes on to the child. Every individual is unique and have unique qualities, which should be taught in the schools. This is called ‘positive psychology’. A positive self image is the need of the hour. Gender sensitization is needed in schools where the kids can be taught to become compassionate and good human beings.
A training manual of the following nature may be conceived as a future possibility for Gender Sensitization Exercises in classroom context:
A User’s Manual: —
What defines a man? What
defines a woman?
Form the class into groups of 6-8 and conduct an Open House discussion.
Take two flip-chart sheets of paper and put them up side-by-side in front of the
participants. On the top of one flip chart, write the word “women” and on the other,
“men”. Ask the question: “What are the characteristics of women and men?” Write down everything that is mentioned. Do not discuss anything at this point.
After the lists are completed, go through each chart item by item. For example,
under the heading of “women”, ask if men too can be patient, sensitive, caringâ€¦?
If so, mark that characteristic with a “yes” or with a “+” sign. Characteristics that
cannot be changed, such as, getting pregnant, growing a moustache etc., should be marked with a “no” or a “-” sign.
Go through the chart entitled “men” and a similar process of questioning as above.
Ask if women can talk loudly, be strong, etcâ€¦Continue to mark the characteristics
Discuss the contributions regarding the characteristics of women and men
How do we learn to be
As you were growing up, what influences shaped your behaviour as expected of a boy/girl, man/woman? Can you give specific examples?
What factors have brought about the changes in successive generations?
What does gender mean in
your life? Given a chance, would you like to be born a woman or a
Discuss specific roles people play in our home/family/society relating to gender. Note down key points on the BB in a tabular format.
Gender and Power:
If I could be a woman, I would
beâ€¦ If I could be a man, I
Let each student respond thinking own self, if they belonged to the opposite gender. Power over (forcing someone to do something through use of a position of authority or strength.)
Power with (doing things by combining your strength with the strengths of other
women and men.)
Power within (one’s personal inner strength.)
Gender and Power
What is Power? What is Gender Power? Different types of Power?
Ask participants to respond quickly and without commenting on
contributions from others. It would be advisable to have a co-facilitator to assist with writing on the flip-chart sheets.
Power between Women and Men.
In pairs, ask participants to think about the power that men have in relation to
women, and vice-versa, in the following areas:
Getting an Education
Also make your own list and decide how many topics you want to add on.
Violence Against Women in
Discuss issues of, violence against women.
Do you think violence against women is actually a show of power and dominance?
Split participants into two groups – men in one group, and women in another.
Inform participants that they have 45 minutes to answer the following 3 questions:
How often does violence against women occur in your city in public and private
What percentage of women and girls are subject to violence?
What can local government do to support victims of this violence?
Group discussion for 30 minutes.
Army Public School
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