“Gender equality is not just a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world” – SDG 5
Discrimination of all kinds remains a difficult social problem. Gender inequality is one of the most serious forms of discrimination that requires an urgent and timely response.
Women play a central and critical role in daily life. This has been captured by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which set targets that specifically recognize the inherent equality in the status of women and the need to further empower them. The deadline for achieving these goals is 2030. Yet gender inequality continues to persist globally.
Education is one of the most powerful tools for creating a change that promotes women’s rights. It cultivates viewpoints that influence societal change and permeate all aspects of human life. In fact, the desired social changes in a society are most likely related to the educational structure to which they adhere. The symbiotic relationship between the two is obvious. On the one hand, society exerts a strong influence on the education process and, on the other hand, the education ecosystem changes according to the needs of society. This interconnection between the two brings about the desired changes in the socio-economic status of a society.
Around the world there has become a growing need to address gender issues and reject the use of gendered terms which have perpetuated themselves in the system and now seem to be an accepted normal norm. Gender bias seems to have solidified its roots deep in our subconscious. Although we are aware of this social malaise, the prejudice remains firmly embedded in the way we work, interact and communicate. These unconscious biases have exacerbated the growing chasm of gender inequality in many societies around the world.
How, then, to verify its hypotheses?
Since gender bias has subtly crept into every aspect of our lives, it is not easy to remove this deeply rooted societal bias. Expecting everyone to think outside the gender box based on a few gender awareness talks will not yield any positive results. This issue needs to be addressed from the earliest years of children. Teachers play a key role in preventing gender stereotypes. Unfortunately, teachers also often unconsciously use a gender perspective in their regular school dealings despite having very good intentions for their students.
If teachers are familiar with the basics of gender bias, they will make sure to instill gender equality in their students from an early age, when the neural connections are forming.
As teachers are considered the cornerstone of an effective education system, they must be constantly aware of their approach to maintaining a stereotype-free environment during their classroom transactions using inclusive language.
To expect a teacher to bring about transformations in human relations and social institutions, it becomes imperative that he be made aware and provided training to reduce sexist prejudices. Gender equality training should be introduced at all levels – in teacher training programs such as B.Ed., NTT, etc., as initial training and also later in schools as continuing education, and should not be missed at the college or university level. University level.
Through well-planned training on gender bias and gender equality, teachers will be aware of the following:
- Gender-neutral language in the classroom: It is important to use gender-neutral terms when referring to something that includes both men and women / girls and boys
- Ensure that teaching materials/articles etc. do not highlight gender stereotypes
- Refrain from using stereotypical characteristics that limit gender roles, for example: “boys are brave”, “- don’t cry”, “- are strong”, etc. ; the girls are “emotional”, “- delicate”, etc.
- Cross out tasks that involve stereotypical gender roles
- Gender-focused pedagogy that encourages the equal participation of boys and girls in the teaching and learning process
Initially, these trainings can be organized on a stand-alone basis and can gradually be integrated into other generic trainings that teachers follow as part of their CPD programmes. Since gender norms are ingrained in the minds of children in their day-to-day interactions with family members, schools need to steer parents towards gender bias, as families are the primary agents of gender socialization.
Gender awareness for all at all levels is the only remedy to bring about the desired social change towards promoting gender equality in society.
A changed mindset will certainly help shape the child’s attitude towards gender roles, with teachers playing an important role as ‘agents of change’.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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