The cover story on gender equality was a wonderful read (PW March). The real-life success story of girl mountaineers Tashi and Nungshi Malik, who became the world’s first twins to scale Mt. Everest, was truly inspiring. My two girls went on to read more about them on the Internet, and were very motivated by their grit, determination and ‘Gender Equality Now: Fight Female Foeticide’ global campaign.
Unfortunately though we have advanced technologically, Indian society is still steeped in patriarchy and misogyny. For most girl children living in small towns and villages, secondary and higher education is a distant dream. We need the government to launch a national programme to ensure that every girl child compulsorily completes at least class XII.
Unconscious gender stereotyping
The gender-neutral parenting primer in your March cover story was brilliant. I have circulated it among parents at my daughter’s preschool. Quite often we unconsciously practise gender discrimination between our girl and male children. Your primer on the common gender stereotyping mistakes parents make and how to avoid them was very useful.
The study conducted by the Early Childhood Association on how gender bias creeps in when we buy toys for children, hit the nail on the head. I must confess that there have been times when I have unconsciously practised gender stereotyping. Often I have bought nail art and kitchen sets for girls as birthday gifts, and science kits for male children. But I still won’t gift a male child a kitchen set for fear of offending his parents!
Offbeat career choices
I enjoy reading your column on offbeat and contemporary careers.
Sadly, thousands of young people are still forced to pursue a narrow range of career options in engineering and medicine, even though a kaleidoscope of new careers is available in the 21st century. Parents should educate themselves about the latest career choices available so they can guide their children accordingly.
Schools must promote gender equality
Gender equality is a contentious issue around the world, and even more so in India which is a deeply patriarchal society. Though I agree with you that gender stereotyping begins at home, schools also play a big role in perpetuating gender discrimination through the choice of co-curricular activities offered to boys and girls. In many schools it’s normative for girls to be asked to enroll in dance and culinary activities rather than robotics and engineering classes.
We need to train our teachers to practise gender equality in their classrooms. Also as you have rightly pointed out our textbooks are misogynistic and need to be revamped to promote gender equality.
Good routines matter
The essay by Jayalakshmi Vaidyanathan on the good routine-habits-rewards loop was interesting (PW March). I have always believed that every child needs a routine which transforms into good habits.
As a primary school teacher, I insist that parents build routines in their children’s lives as it gives them a sense of security and helps them develop discipline. For instance, a fixed routine of reading before bedtime instilled from early childhood will inculcate the reading habit in adulthood.
Informative and useful
I recently became a subscriber of ParentsWorld and must congratulate you on publishing an excellent magazine on parenting. The stories are very informative and useful.
In particular your early childhood and Health & Nutrition sections are especially educational. The March essay on preventing diaper rash was illuminating offering practical advice on how to treat this common affliction of toddlers.