An organisation that works to end violence against women is using games to reach out to children to “generate a discussion” on gender stereotypes and how it creates discrimination in society.
Any kind of violence against women is perpetuated by gender inequality and that discriminatory practice needs to be curbed right at the beginning, said officials of the organisation, Swayam.
The organisation has created flashcards where certain activities of everyday life like washing utensils, feeding a child, ironing, speaking at a public forum, vegetable shopping, drying clothes, changing a baby’s nappy, flying kites and reading a newspaper are shown without mentioning who is performing the activity, said Soumi Jana, preventive strategy team member, Swayam.
The boys and girls or their parents are asked to tell who — man or woman, boy or girl — are performing these activities and the answers lead to discussions because more often than not respondents assign roles to individuals based on their gender.
“We are trying to generate a discussion in society to re-define the roles assigned and expected of men, women and other genders. There are certain areas where the gender stereotypes are breaking but rigidity around gender roles still exists,” said Amrita Dasgupta, director, Swayam.
Dasgupta cited the example of toys. Girls are supposed to play with dolls and utensils and boys with guns and footballs. As for pencil boxes, parents often buy pink boxes for girls and blue ones for boys.
“We have to talk about discrimination and diversity at an early age, before they reach adolescence or adulthood so that they are not stuck in the gender stereotypes,” said Dasgupta.
Swati Sanyal, community coordinator at Swayam, said often the burden is on boys or men to be the “protector.”
“Even that is gender stereotyping. The difference is created in how children are raised and not at birth,” said Sanyal.