It’s the 21st century and women today walk shoulder to shoulder with men. We are a part of the workforce and are seen and heard in almost every field – even those considered to be solely for men! However, despite this progress towards an equal world, we are still far from achieving equality. Issues like wage gap, impossible beauty standards, and victim blaming in sexual harassment cases are proof of this inequality. And our children are growing up amidst all this…
Years upon years of ingrained misogyny and gender bias have been holding us back from truly achieving gender equality. This unequal view of the two genders has been passed down generation to generation – men are held at a higher standard as bread winners and consequently look down, or are disrespectful, towards women – at times without even being aware of it.
As parents, we are responsible for shaping the outlook our children have towards the world. It is our responsibility to ensure that our sons respect our daughters and our daughters are not left behind.
There are certain steps we must take to ensure that our children not only believe in but actually practice gender equality too!
1. Set an Example at Home
Children learn by example and its time you show them the kind of values and behaviour you want to inculcate in them. Share the load with your hubby and talk to your son about how it’s not a compulsion for a woman or a man to follow gender roles – it’s a choice. Doing so will make your son understand that that both mom and dad are equally responsible to run the house – irrespective of gender.
2. Keep them Informed about Current Affairs
As per their age, make sure that your kids are informed about the happenings of the world and tell them what is wrong and what is right – from eve teasing to female foeticide. Understanding the difference between what’s good and what’s bad will help them understand that they need to respect women early on in life.
3. Refuse Gender Roles
If you have kids of different genders, avoid enforcing gender roles on them. Involve both your kids equally in household chores and encourage both of them to take up what they wish – whether it be a ‘boy’ sport or a ‘girly’ sport. Ensure that both of them get equal opportunities too.
4. Block Access to Media with Disrespectful Content
As your child grows older, he will take cues from the media that he is exposed to, and at times, learn values from them too. Make sure that the different forms of media that they are exposed to do not propagate gender inequality or are disrespectful towards women. This includes TV shows, cartoons, as well as online content.
5. Take a Stand When you See Someone Being Disrespectful
As mentioned above, your little one is taking cues and lessons from you all the time – even when you think he isn’t. Therefore, set an example, not only in the house but outside as well. Take a stand when you are witness to disrespect towards women.
6. Listen and Provide Space for Expression
Most kids are vulnerable to peer pressure as they don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions and expressing their dislike. By providing a space for them to do so, you’ll be able to make them more comfortable and confident in their beliefs, and consequently help combat peer pressure overall. This will also aid in promoting gender equality.
Today, more often than not, parents think about teaching the right values for their kids. However, we often forget that they are the future of the world and that their actions can affect more than just them or their family! Moulding them in the right way can have a ripple effect that can change the world! Ultimately, all we can do is take one step at a time.