We co-hosted our first Corporate Community Cafe of the 2014 Campaign Season on 5th December with the lovely people at EZ Vidya. The Community Cafe is a format that allows us to approach gender violence from many angles and perspectives and each group of people we do it with put their impress on the conversation in different ways.
In prevention and response to Gender Violence, we often talk about multi-sectoral interventions. There are many layers and complications to traverse and requires work at every level. At EZ Vidya, we sat down with a mixed group of people of different ages, gender and experiences but with a common passion for education. As people engaged in re-defining the way teachers teach, children learn and content is shaped, the conversation followed two main themes:
- The Gender Stereotyping that steers children towards certain hobbies, activities and careers as appropriate for their gender and the subsequent consequences for children of all genders was discussed at length. For example, men are often pushed towards Engineering or Management to gear them to being breadwinners and denying them avenues to pursue their passions and women are stripped of responsibilities and choices in this regard, leaving them free to choose careers in the arts or sciences but simultaneously denying them equal opportunities.
- A large part of the discussion focused on how children can be raised and taught in gender-sensitive and gender-equal ways. EZ Vidya's work on re-shaping curriculum was also highlighted. In their new social studies books for primary classes, men and women are both portrayed as heads of families and both have careers and do housework. The family is explained as a collaborative unit and no gender-specific roles are assigned, thereby challenging stereotypes that we often take for granted, such as mothers cook and fathers work.
The people at EZ Vidya strongly believe that focusing on children and changing what we teach them, the manner in which it is taught and the people who teach are critical pivots in altering the discourse on gender and violence. We hope this is the first of many such conversations.