Have you ever wondered from where and when did learn various gender stereotypes? Where did we learn that girls wear pink and boys blue, girls play indoors with dolls while boys play football outdoors, or that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and a man’s in an office? You see, society at large, which is predominantly patriarchal, has conditioned us into stereotyping gender-specific roles. And to do this, they have tactfully inserted these ideas into everyday machinations.
Detergent ads feature a woman whereas an advertisement talking about loans features a man. In illustrations of a family in school textbooks, a woman is shown cooking or cleaning, wearing a saree whereas a man is sitting on the couch reading a newspaper wearing a suit. Our lives are filled with agencies that have ingrained in us this thought process. However, it’s never too late to unlearn these beliefs. Having said that, Maharashtra has already taken a step ahead in this direction.
Balbharati, the Maharashtra state curriculum board has changed illustrations on textbooks to teach the new generation gender equality and portray women in a much more progressive light.
According to sources, the revised school textbooks have illustrations of men helping women with household chores and shows women with successful careers. The report revealed that in one of them, a man and a woman are seen cleaning vegetables, sitting side by side. Another one shows a female doctor and traffic police.
There is also a page with two illustrations of a man – one with him cooking and the other with him ironing clothes.
Sunil Magar, Director at Balbharati, told sources that the intention behind such changes in textbooks is to teach the younger generation that both men and women can do the same nature of work, thereby getting rid of gender-specific ideas.
“We here at Balbharati give emphasis on experiments. While drafting the new textbooks, especially for the young ones, we need to see that the content in the textbooks is abreast with structures and changes in the society,” he said.
This is a major step towards bringing about social change. Kudos to the Maharashtra board!