A step towards bridging gender gap

New Delhi: Blue is for boys, pink is for girls. This notion has been engraved in our minds since time immemorial, resulting in lifelong consequences over the two genders.

Several studies have found that kids are confined into gender roles in early adolescence.

Because of the findings and the acceptability over the past few years, the concept of ‘gender neutral’ is growing fast.

“We read every day about problems that are a result of gender inequalities – gender pay gap, sexual violence, of girls killed every year in India, of the economic cost and loss of talent and productivity. All these are big issues but each of them can be tackled if we pay more attention to the biases that fuel these problems,” said Amita Malhotra, co-founder and facilitator of Candidly, a platform to talk about issues of gender, sexuality and media among children and young adults.

“People tend to underreport their own bias and often enough are not even aware that they have a bias. A person who becomes aware of their bias has a better chance of being able to counteract them,” Amita told ANI.

When asked what effect does gender stereotyping have on the younger generation, she said, “Gender stereotypes hold back our children and hurt them emotionally. From a young age, our children are exposed to limited and limiting ideas about what it means to be a boy or a girl. Think superhero culture that idolises aggression, dominance and emotional denial for boys; or, think of a princess culture which tells girls that their true value is in their beauty and physical appearance.”

Amita added, “Unrealistic expectations of beauty and sexiness for girls, especially in media, create a sense of anxiety, poor self-esteem and body-shame issues. Boys are constantly told to hide their true feelings. The ‘Be tough’ message aimed at boys correlates to higher risk-taking and impacts their health negatively. From binge drinking to drug abuse, risky driving to physical violence, they are pressured to fit the mode of toxic masculinity.”

As a society, what is to be done to bridge the gender gap?

“By age 10, gender stereotypes are said to be deeply ingrained in minds of children. If we want to address gender bias, we do need to intervene at an early age. We launched Candidly, an initiative to address and challenge gender issues among children. We have just launched EqualiTee, our range of gender-cool merchandise that challenges this highly gendered world of children’s play and expression by creatively representing a world that’s shared by boys and girl equally,” concluded Amita. (ANI)