- This article highlights the need for including children in the efforts to create a gender equal society.
When and why do gender biases develop?
- At infancy: Parents treat their baby daughters and sons differently.
- At early childhood: Most children identify themselves as boy or girl at 6 years of age and start following social rules that had to be followed.
- At preschool: Family, preschool or anganwadi, and the messages that the child receives through content (books, digital games, nursery rhymes, TV, etc) impart biased roles of genders. For instance, For example, in a story where children play with vehicles, boys play with trucks, and girls with sedans.
- At adulthood: Children are getting exposed to gender discriminatory messages by witnessing mothers play nurturing roles and fathers work hard to earn money.
Why should children have to be taught about gender equality?
- Most work on gender equality has focused on older people but early childhood is when we develop gender identities.
- The environment that children are raised in and the messages that they receive about gender wield a powerful influence on their developing identities.
- Young children can influence family members and others in their circles.
- If thirteen percent of India’s population that is between 0- 6 years old are exposed to gender-equal environments, they can potentially bring about significant change.
- Work on gender equality must include children also.
- Global push for gender-transformative education in early childhood and gender equity being a guiding principle in the National Curriculum Framework is a step in the right direction.
- Multifaceted approach to creating gender-equal environments includes
- policies and practices that help fathers be equal caregivers to their children,
- gender-equal programmes in schools and communities, and
- gender equal content for children.