A Step Towards Gender Equality
In India, whenever a girl child takes birth in any family, the first concern that her parents have is about her safety. The same thing happened with the mother of Reena, Sumitra. Reena is a student of Class 8 in Dudri, Murhu block, Khunti district of Jharkhand.
“The moment Reena was born, my concern was for her safety. How would I ensure she was alright when each day was a struggle for me to protect my dignity, safety, and respect at the hands of an abusive, drunken husband and a sexually pervasive brother-in-law whose advances I was expected to tolerate in silence?” Sumitra said.
The goal of future India is to make our country a place where no girl or woman is treated unequal and it can’t be attained only by saying that we all are equal. The problem of Sumitra’s solution comes under the UN’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality.
As per the McKinsey Global Institute report ‘The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in India’, we could “boost GDP by $0.7 trillion in 2025. This translates into 1.4 percent per year of incremental GDP growth for India.” It clearly means that in next 10 years there will be some 70 million jobs for women.
The fear and nervous anticipation of Sumitra got a relief one day when a new subject in school, called Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) introduced. Here they were sensitised to different aspects of violence, identifying these and seeking ways to safeguard themselves.
As the session got over a change in Reena and others were clearly visible. In the village people openly began talking about it and violent behaviors, discriminating social norms and corporal punishment at school were asked.
In the cases where girls faced abuse, discrimination, and emotional or physical violence, the groups were formed to investigate it. Due to all instances of such cases came down, enrollment of girls in school increased, and some of the child marriages were stopped.
“GEMS has become an organic part of our curriculum. Just the way we have Maths and Science, there is GEMS.” said Sangeeta Gupta, a GEMS teacher/facilitator at the Subodh Monda School.
In Delhi, a programme by ICRW, called Plan-It Girls has been launched. As per Prerna Kumar, Senior Technical Specialist, ICRW, Plan-It Girls is an amalgam of all that has been learned over the years. Plan-It Girls is reaching out to 10,000 girls in Delhi and rural Jharkhand. It is launched in 20 schools in Delhi (ten government girls schools in the morning shift and ten government boys schools in the evening shift) it works with students of grade 9 and 11.The programme focuses on gender-integrated life skills and employ-ability skills.
Ravi Verma, Regional Director, ICRW, Asia says, “We believe that girls can be truly empowered only when they begin to aspire in unconventional ways, moving away from prevailing gender stereotypes and with necessary abilities and support, to realize their dreams”.
GEMS and Plan-It Girls work for UN’s fifth sustainable development goal of gender equality and we need such other Programmes.