April , 2018
Gender sensitivity—A pressing concern
14:56 pm

Samprikta Sinha

One of the most pertinent issues that troubles India is the issue of gender sensitivity. India is a country where female deities are worshipped; moreover, India itself is con- sidered as a ‘motherland’. In spite of such glorification, the Indian society hasn’t quite been the harbinger of gender equality.

Even to this day, cases of honour killing, rape, deaths related to dowry and foetal deaths are rampant; even to this day, birth of a girl child is scorned upon in many households and the birth of a boy child is seen as auspicious. The problem is at the core. As long as people are not made aware of gender equality, discrimination against women won’t cease.

An issue like gender sensitivity requires more awareness among men and women equally. Women have been perpetual victims of gender discrimination, be it at workplace, school, home or even public transport. The male hegemony over female, existing since time immemorial, is a result of social structures, which demeans women as the weaker gender, while elevating men on the pedestal as the more superior gender.

Gender sensitisation should be developed at grass roots level among both men and women. Therefore it becomes increasingly important to promote gender equality and sensitivity, and encourage women empowerment in workplaces, schools and of course at home. A curriculum in gender studies in schools and colleges could help to spread awareness. In schools and workplaces, both men and women must interact with each other and know each other better to foster a healthier environment.

Recently, schools have taken up the opportunity to spread awareness on gender sensitive issues. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has introduced a kit for teachers on gender sensitivity. Its aim is to guide teachers to be more considerate about both genders and tackle discriminatory situations. Often there are cases of biased participation in class on the part of boys and girls. While the ratio of student-teacher interaction is more in case of boys, teachers seem to call on or call-out girls less. Besides, male students are found to have social contact with teachers on a more personal level. The use of language, therefore, plays a prominent role in deciding gender roles, and it needs to be regulated.

Men have always had a more privileged position in the society. The most dreadful thing is that they don’t seem to comprehend the gender discrimination inherent in them. This is true in case of both men and women. Many a times, people pass casual comments which they don’t recognise as typically characterised against woman. Therefore, not just women, men have also being subjected to gender discrimination which they fall short of understanding. Gender discrimination is the cornerstone of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment at workplaces has been a persistent problem.  Indecent gestures, offensive comments, unwanted physical contacts, so on and so forth, should never be encouraged. Afraid of being shamed and blamed, women have kept quiet for a long time about workplace harassment. No matter what, the perpetrators always had a way with their words. In today’s world, women are breaking all barriers and emerging triumphant. Nonetheless, some choose to keep quiet for the fear of losing their jobs or being labeled as one who cannot take jokes easily.

With the initiation of ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, ruling out & Redressal) Act, 2013’, people are opening up more about workplace misbehaviour. The law administers to establish a complaint committee in any firm for the prevention and regulation of sexual harassment. It is time that everybody learns that women are an indispensible part of every organisation, and that it is integral to respect women and value their consent at workplaces. And not just women, men have also suffered harassment at workplaces. Therefore, the pressing issue of gender sensitivity must be addressed to put a stop to gender discrimination.

Maintaining ethics is like maintaining hygiene- lack of it can turn the tide on oneself. Keeping up positive behaviour, feelings and attitude at home, schools and workplaces is of utmost importance. Inequality among the genders acts as a catalyst for the rising crime against women. Young minds should be made cautious about gender equality so that they become more sensitive and respectable towards the other gender. It’s high time that the difference between men and women is bridged. Both are equally capable, and must be provided equal opportunities. Gender as a social structure decides for us our behaviour, roles and characteristics. It is time to break free of such constrictions conducive to develop a just society.

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