"Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world."
Gender equality is something the world has struggled with for as long as the human race has existed. A fact that is sad yet true. For centuries now, women from all different parts of the world have fought off adversities and fought the so-called 'social norms' to achieve their dreams. It is a battle that has been fought and lost many times. The only way to overcome this hurdle is by uniting toward a common goal.
That is precisely what the 5th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals – 4 (SDG-4), i.e., Gender Equality wants to achieve. SDG-4 notes the many positive changes that have happened over the last few decades, with more and more girls enrolling in schools and fewer girl child dropouts. Despite this, it continues to push the goal of complete gender equality by 2030. This is because we still have a long way to go.
Here are the statistics to show the present state of girl students in our capital city- New Delhi. As you can see, 74.6% of the girls are not pursuing higher education. The girl-boy ratio is still 919:1000. This is highly shameful; 92% of women experience sexual violence in public spaces. Even the rest of the statistics are not something we can be proud of.
As a nation, we have a long way to go, and the only way to achieve any success for the 5th goal of SDG-4 is by starting at the beginning. The New Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) talks about gender inclusion throughout the education sector. "The Policy envisages equitable and inclusive education for all, with a special focus on children and youth, especially girls, from socially and economically disadvantaged groups." The NEP 2020 discusses in detail the various reasons behind girls not completing their education. Some of the significant reasons are:
2. Patriarchal mindset
3. Lack of literacy
4. Lack of awareness among women
5. Social customs, beliefs, and practices
6. Menstrual issues
This is not even the end of the list. It is merely a trailer. As educators, we need to implement all positive measures to encourage gender equality not only on paper or in the classroom but also the hearts and minds of the students. This can be done by following a few simple practices:
1. Giving all the students equal opportunity to learn all the subjects and be a part of all learning experiences.
2. Educators must try to provide equal opportunities for all students to participate in classroom activities.
3. The educators can ensure that the curriculum, books, and illustrations used are gender sensitive instead of gender-specific.
4. Educators must avoid using phrases such as "boys should do this" or "girls must do that."
5. The school prefects and school council responsibilities should be distributed amongst all students equally.
6. If an educator observes any domestic issues where a girl child is being treated improperly, they must report the matter to the school, and as the custodians of the future of this country and the world, the school must intervene and make sure the issue is resolved.
7. Counsel parents on the importance of gender equality.
8. Organizing campaigns and awareness programs to educate the school's neighborhood.
9. Educate the senior students on their legal rights.
10. Schools must provide girls a free space or platform where they can indulge in peer-group counseling with their girl classmates and girl seniors.
We may already know these things but sometimes need a reminder. We must be glad for NEP 2020 and SDG-4 for addressing these issues on a platform where a difference can be made. With belief in our hearts and a desire for a better future for all, we sign off with the words of Ms. Gloria Steinem,
"A gender-equal society would be one where the word 'gender' does not exist: where everyone can be themselves."
- Author: Planet
Date: 08 August, 2022