In India, Schools are the epicenter of patriarchy; this is rather unfortunate news because a lot of us are relied upon our education system to fight against the existing discriminations of our society. If we take a close look into our classrooms, and the conditionings of children that are done there- we will notice many problematic stereotypes are being generated and passed on to the children. A child’s conditioning is done by their schools, the interactions they have with their teachers and peers impact them in a huge way. School is just like a society, where certain norms, values, and prejudices are passed on to its members. Schools can be a great tool to ensure a change in our society, therefore, they must start taking the initiative to focus on gender issues. Unfortunately, we have seen schools doing the opposite by putting restrictions on girl’s clothing, by moral policing them, and by scrutinizing them throughout the day. Schools must put emphasis on authorizing an individual’s freedom, especially girls and gender-neutral children. Schools shouldn’t be stigmatizing perceptions of sexuality, instead, they must ensure that the idea of gender-roles must be blurred.
There were 338,000 cases of reported crime against women in 2016; crime against women is rapidly growing, but still, the discussions against Patriarchy are almost negligible. India is one of the most dangerous countries for women, but we don’t see our schools spreading awareness to their students about it. We do not see schools educating the boys about women’s safety and consent, in fact, we don’t even see them acknowledging the growing cases of violence against males in our society. Indian schools have been a powerhouse of upholding the idea of Patriarchy, they play a major role in ensuring the continuity of gender-based roles. We need proper implementation of the ideas of human rights in schools, and we need them to take some responsibility in educating their students about Patriarchy and gender-based issues.
Gender is not a woman’s issue, it’s a people’s issue-
How can schools make society a better place to live if they completely fail to talk about gender-issues with their students. I remember that back at my own school, safety and awareness classes were only reserved for girls. Isn’t that unfair that only girls are taught how to protect themselves, but boys are not taught anything about consent and women’s safety? This entire idea of dealing with gender-based issues needs to be drastically changed. Gender issues need to be properly addressed in schools, our curriculum must teach us about human rights and problems faced by different genders.
It’s honestly shocking if we notice how immensely oblivious, we were in schools about rights and gender issues. Instead of implementing proper curriculum and programs to ensure that gender-based discriminations end in our society, schools practiced some very rhetorical classroom rules. We all have experiences from schools which has been extremely misogynistic, we have also encountered extreme taboo around sexuality in classrooms and deep gender-biased instructions for girls and boys.
What can schools teach their students?
We are drastically lacking dialogue and discourses about sexuality and gender issues. We need the schools to start talking about these issues and let the students analyze why gender-based discrimination occurs and especially against women. It is essential for schools to take the initiative and allow the students to talk about their own individual experiences. Schools must come up with a strategy to ensure that are they providing comprehensive sexuality education to their students.
Schools must ensure to let their students know that patriarchy exists; they must try to have discussions with the kids about the role of their mothers and fathers. These discussions will allow the students to realize how patriarchy has always oppressed their mothers, and would also realize how all major decisions about the family are taken by their fathers. These existing gender roles must be questioned, and that’s why it is so essential to dispose of the normality that revolves around patriarchy.
It is very must necessary to change our textbooks; it is necessary for our textbooks to not just discuss problems and battles of women in historical context, but it must also talk about contemporary women in social, economic, and political contexts. We need an immediate strategy of role reversal and the creation of a space where discussions and debates about gender issues can happen. Therefore, schools must ensure that our textbooks have necessary changes that will allow the stirring of significant discourses around patriarchy.
The discussions about gender equality are incomplete if we do not take into consideration the varying power relations in our society. It is essential to talk about intersectionality, that will recognize that in our society people have to intersect social identities. We must understand that people experience oppression in varying degrees depending on their social position. Therefore, we need the role of gender analysis in our schools to ensure gender equality.