Educationalist, Fatima Agarkar stresses on the need to change the gender disparity situation in India from the grass root level. Why boys are ‘blue’ and girl are ‘pink’!
The USA is on the threshold of gender parity, the Great Britain is already celebrating this equality. Most leading companies worldwide have created uniformity by appointing ladies in top leadership positions. In India, the question is at the grass root level where we still continue to discriminate and divide. Girls cannot do this and girls cannot to do that. As a mother of an 11 year old boy, I have had the privilege of being associated with little girls in his class, who are far more determined, committed and driven. I am hoping that it does not stem from the fact that they have to fight harder in a male dominated world, but because there is truly an innate individuality in them.
I was sent this YouTube video of an 11-year-old girl who was shown clothes manufactured for girls and boys of her age and asked to comment on them. With all her innocence and honesty, she pointedly commented that girl’s clothes were printed with, “Hey”, “ I am a princess!”, “I love ponies...” While the boy’s clothes carried images of adventure sports, super hero quotes (save the world kind) and about believing that anything they dreamt of was possible!
“What a pointless association with the girl child using the word, “Hey”, she said. How come boys get the cooler images and visuals that tell them what all they can achieve while girls get stuff that tells them being pretty is their sole role in life. Is that fair?
Popular toy store, Hamleys initially had floors segregated for boys and girls with blue colour signage for boys while pink indicating the floor for girls, clearly pointing towards gender differences. This sentiment of inequality has been replaced with new signs that focus on the kind of toys sold on each floor rather than signifying which gender should play with them. When you visit a toy store you instantly encounter a sea of pink for the girls section which comprise of stuffed toys, Barbie doll sets, cooking and crockery sets all lending a feminine feel, while you are flowed with a masculine touch in the section of the store dedicated to boys. The actionpacked toys like construction games, cars and spaceships give you a clear idea of the leadership abilities, speed and action skills that boys are linked with. Usually board games and business games come with images of boys playing, totally eliminating the skills and capabilities of girls. I strongly feel if children are restricted to play with only one type of toy, their intellectual development will be very limited. Another example of gender difference would be a past Barbie commercial in which there is a sentence with Barbie saying, “I love to go shopping”. Shopping is an activity most women love and adore. This stereotypical sentiment of women has been exploited through this commercial. Recent advertisements have also echoed the very same thought. Whisper, as a brand, captures a painful reality of our times when little girls are questioned how they run, as if the right to a track is reserved for a boy only.
Beautifully communicated through this advertisement is the need for us as a society to break the tradition of treating girls and boys separately. Even Ariel, from the P&G group, has come out with an appealing advertisement to promote its ‘Share The Load’ campaign. This commercial urges husbands to support their wives to do the laundry, thus emphasising on gender equality. A simple example of this gender bias would be the sports competition in schools wherein girls are made to cover only a single stretch of the ground, while the boys are made to cover two or more rounds, thus depicting girls to be weaker than the guys. Girls are made to do push-ups sitting on their knees while boys are not considered man enough if they don’t do it the regular way. Some schools have stereotypically segregated playgrounds featuring two zones, the girls’ zones and the boys’ zones because boys usually refuse to play with the girls. The above excerpt tries to prove that boys are tougher and more resilient than the feminine community. Research and studies conducted on gender equality show how parents tend to be over protective for the daughters as compared to their sons. This liberal attitude shown towards the sons, permitting them to step out at any point, but limiting the time for the girls is not the right way to go. This shows that how the society considers the girls to be dependent on the male community for their protection and well-being. Forcing them to focus on doing more of household chores, sends across a clear message, that home is the primary domain in a woman’s life.
We have got to play a big role in securing these little girls and giving them the freedom of being what they are, just as we do to the boys...
In my mind, we have lost centuries already and if any more time is lost, we will lose the creativity and truly the impact we can have on this world.