I Teach So That I Can Change Society’s Mindset Towards Girls

Canadian High CommissionEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #EveryGirlInSchool, a campaign by the High Commission of Canada, Nutrition International and Youth Ki Awaaz to advocate for equal opportunities for girls in India. Join the conversation by publishing a story here.

By Nikita Kotecha of Teach For India; submitted for #EveryGirlInSchool

“But didi, why are there no girls who are Brahmins in the Vedic period?”

“Well, Soleeha that is a question whose answer we still can’t find reason for.”

Discrimination against women has been a long drawn practice that has now become a habit. It’s normal. We see it in schools, offices, on levels of authority, in homes, and almost everywhere our gaze can reach. The problem is why has it become so normal? Answers to that can range from physical abilities to religion, from gender roles to Marxism. But the need of the hour is to put an end to it.

Waves of feminism have come and gone but should it end there? I believe in an IDEAL world, where the word ‘feminist’ should not exist, because we should breathe equality. But alas, that world is yet to be born. We need to aid the birth of such a world.

As a teacher, I see this problem on various levels. From the classroom to problems at home. I believe the main source is mindset. All humans are born as a clean canvas. Experience paints our views, moulds our beliefs, builds our opinions. Girls aren’t born inferior and boys superior. They have a right to education and equal opportunities and respect and dignity in the society just as the men do. However, they are made to believe otherwise. As adults, it’s our responsibility to make a change, if not in the mindsets that have already shaped and exist, definitely in the ones that are now moulding.

During parent teacher meetings, I encourage mothers to use their voice so that their children don’t give in to the silence. It’s jarring, this silence that says so much without trace. Not only does this give confidence to my students but also helps parents know what’s right and wrong.

Due to lack of awareness, there is an ocean of individuals thinking this is the rule. This is how things are supposed to be. While there have been slight changes, these changes have failed to reach the masses. The word consent always seems to be yes regardless of whether it’s a no. Anytime a new repost of sexual assault comes to light, the first question asked is “what was she wearing?” A man’s word is taken at face value, while a women has to fight to be heard for everything she needs, which includes things as basic as access to education/ higher education depending on the socio-economic strata of the society she comes from. .

Not only their attire, but also the behaviour of women is constantly questioned. “What time did she leave the house?” The question should be why are women locked in the four walls of domesticity and not given equal opportunities. Even when showcased on the big screen, women only play certain roles that abide by their gender. On television, women have set roles that they fulfil. Anything out of this seems out of place. All this shapes mindsets. From religion to media, we are all victims of perpetuation.

The thought of living in a world where my daughter and my students fear multiple scenarios only because they are women is one which I cannot allow and thus I do what I do – I teach to change mindsets; which is what I believe is the primary cause for the gender gap in education and opportunities.

Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below