In the wake of the #metoo explosion in India, we explore the sexism debate. Sexism exists in women as well as in men; it has no respect for individual aspirations, potential or abilities. In obvious and subtle ways, it influences the outcomes of a myriad of life situations the world over.
The concept of gender sensitivity has been developed as a way to reduce barriers to personal and economic development created by sexism. Gender sensitivity helps to generate respect for the individual regardless of sex.
Gender sensitivity is not about pitting women against men. On the contrary, education that is gender-sensitive benefits members of both sexes. It helps them determine which assumptions in matters of gender are valid and which are stereotyped generalizations. Gender awareness requires not only intellectual effort but also sensitivity and open-mindedness. It opens up the widest possible range of life options for both women and men.
Gender disparity in education is widely recognized. It threatens to outlive the present generation and many more to come. Gender-sensitive education has value for all members of society. It is probably the best education for creating a learning atmosphere that is fair and sustainable for all. It promises to be a viable alternative for the building of enduring progress in Education for All.
Parents in traditional societies see girls as “transient” members of the family to be married off to another family, while boys are heirs to carry on the family name. Women’s potential for excelling in “non-traditional’’ endeavours receives scanty mention in educational materials. Materials rarely picture women as managers, pilots, lawyers, scientists, doctors or heads of state.
In recent years, an increasing number of people have come to understand that, with the exception of tasks that require excessive physical exertion, women can excel in all the fields that men can. Conversely, except for childbearing and breastfeeding, there are no tasks that men cannot perform as well as women.
The fact that there have been female scientists, electricians, auto mechanics, pilots, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and managers and male designers and couturiers, chefs, hairdressers, nurses, kindergarten teachers in great numbers attests to the fact that the demarcation of roles along sex lines is arbitrary and entirely invented by societies.