tackling raging gender bias through gender sensitisation

The World Economic Forum did a survey in 2016 which considered the proportion of resources and opportunities made available to women on educational, economic, political and health parities. India ranked a dismal 87 in the survey. We could blame the patriarchal society and regressive mindset, but the truth is that urban areas fare only a little better than rural areas.

India has a gender problem, and bridging this gender disparity is the need of the hour. Experts from both, urban and rural areas, advocate that gender sensitization is the key to resolving this issue.

National Research Center for Women in Agriculture recognizes the change in perception brought about by gender sensitisation in both, men and women. With their study, they identified that after gender sensitisation, men no longer perceived women in a stereotypical manner, and accepted that they are equal partners in the overall socio-economic development. However, they pointed out that for the inherent biases to change, women too need to change the age old perception that they are subordinate to men. They need to accept that they have an equally important role to play in decision making at household, community and organizational levels.

The State Institute of Urban Development in Mysore also identifies gender sensitisation as a weapon towards Gender Equity, Equal Opportunity and Women Empowerment, which is essential for creating sustainable development as enshrined in our constitution. Thus, it provides women with the dignity, liberty and opportunity that they rightfully deserve.

Gender sensitisation programs are advocated by all experts on the basis of results exhibited in various communities all over the world. Here are two instances of how such initiatives have been instrumental in bringing about a positive impact on society, and in improving the economic condition of women.

Indigenous communities in Rajasthan:

With the objective of raising awareness about gender-related issues and mobilizing equal participation of women in community affairs centered around the joint management (JFM) of common property forest resources, the Rajasthan Forest Department implemented intense Gender Sensitisation Programmes in a group of villages in Udaipur District. The effect was evaluated after 1 year of initiation of the program, by assessing the changes in five particular aspects:

  • Involvement of women in the functioning of community institutions
  • Overall effectiveness of community institutions
  • Self-empowerment of women
  • Attitudinal change for women participation
  • Awareness and concern of women for community affairs

Overall, the scores had improved in all areas. When women came forward to make decisions, it resulted in economic development in the communities. However, while some villages showed significant improvement, the progress in a few villages were hindered by the patriarchal mindsets of the dominant Rajput community.

While it is very difficult to change the set ideals and beliefs of adults, this problem can be tackled in a much more effective manner by sensitising children against gender bias.

Men in Kerala:

Capacity building program focussed on gender sensitization by charitable trust Sakhi amongst the young men from Universities led to the formation of a core group of pro-feminist men. These men initiated a rally of men and conducted a public meeting during a 16-day campaign against violence against women. The theme ofmasculinities also figured at the workshop organised during the Kerala social Forum in December 2002.

Having said that, in most cases the benefits of gender sensitisation are not be realised overnight but relentless effort in this regard definitely contributes towards changing the mindset that women are ‘weak and unequal.’ The real challenge is that it becomes difficult to sensitise older people. It is much easier to mould a child’s opinion rather than change the deeply entrenched beliefs of an adult. We all know the wonders that gender sensitisation can bring about in our society. It has been proven that there is a positive correlation between socio-economic well-being and gender equality in society. Why shouldn’t we then take the necessary steps now to ensure gender sensitive education for our children?

Join us in our quest to realise a safe, equal society for all.

Sign Tata Tea’s petition for making gender sensitization compulsory in the school curriculum to pave the way for a better tomorrow. Click on Link or call 7815966666 toll free.

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