Kicking Away Gender Norms
I believe that India’s youth have a lot of potential. Even though just 27% of the population are 15-19 years of age, my belief is that they comprise 100% of our future. Ever since I was young, I have been asked to eat like a girl, sit like a girl, play like a girl, dress like a girl, and more. I questioned what ‘like a girl’ means; quite often. All I knew was that if I had to do something, I would prefer to do it my way. And that’s what I did. I was told I questioned the society too much and as everyone elder to me had more experience, I should listen to what they say. I sensed that everyone around me lives in fear, fear that one day young persons like me will question the society and question the labels. According to me, this is what India needs, it needs us, the youth, to stand up for our self.
I am working towards the goal of gender equality in India. Now I want you to take a moment and think, what’s the first word which comes to your mind when we talk about gender equality? I’m guessing its ‘female’. I am assured that tackling a problem from the roots is the best solution. In this case it is important to teach the young generation how to treat people equally and respect each other, not just the elders. I think collaboration is the key, and have some ideas on how to bring about collaboration in everyday life.
I, with my karate teacher, have performed a self defence workshop for underprivileged female youth. I conducted my first workshop in the December, 2016. These workshops not only teach physical training but also help students mentally prepare for any situations which may occur. One workshop I conducted for the underprivileged females aged 10-18 was quite a success as we did live demonstrations and actual physical training. Additionally, the use of household items for self defence was highlighted. We took a feedback session at the end to learn how much the girls were able to grasp, which is going to help us in all our future endeavours. I feel like opening up these workshops to both genders shall play a major role in achieving my goal. The male and female together should be taught self defence techniques so they can learn from each other and practice with each other regardless of differentiation of gender.
Furthermore, I have been working towards increasing the role women play in occupational sectors in India since the 5th grade. I have visited multiple government organisations which focus on women welfare and conduct myriad of activities to maximise the inclusion of women in the occupational sector.
It gives me happiness to know that I have helped increase a child’s confidence. I know that every single workshop or training session conducted boosts self assurance for the students participating. It builds respect between peers and brings smiles to faces. Be it classroom painting, school bag packing for underprivileged youth, conducting self defence workshops, etc., I know that the effort I and the people who help me make is genuinely affecting lives. There’s so much more to be done, but I hope this is the start.
Sanika Khare, Ninth Grade