When it comes to the issue of women empowerment and gender equality, our political class has the habit of saying utterly ridiculous things. So here is yet another instance of words of wisdom straight from Union Women and Child Development minister, Maneka Gandhi.
With an aim to create ‘gender-sensitivity’ among men, Gandhi asked for increased participation of men as she felt that all violence is ‘male-generated’ in a live chat with users on Facebook on Monday, September 14. That’s not all. She also said that the ministry is working on a ‘Gender Champions’ concept in which boys who will ‘particularly respectful and helpful’ to girls will be given prizes.
“Men’s role is the most critical since all the violence is male-generated. One of the ways to tackle this is at the school stage. So, we have started something which will go into effect in a few months, called ‘Gender Champions’ under which boys will be chosen who have been particularly respectful and helpful to girls and deserve to be emulated and rewarded,” said the minister at an interaction which was a part of the Ministry’s ‘100 Women Initiative’ to recognise women achievers.
Violence against women is extremely deplorable which needs to be condemned at any cost. While a large proportion of violence against women is male generated in India, and around the world, concluding that ‘all violence is male generated’ is not an apt thing to say. Following your male-bashing, here are a few questions I’d like to ask you, Ms. Gandhi.
1. How can all violence be ‘male-generated’? Does it mean that women do not indulge in violence at all?
2. What is the logic behind giving an award to boys who are ‘ particularly respectful and helpful’ to girls? Aren’t school kids, irrespective of gender, expected and taught to be respectful and helpful to everyone? Segregating and introducing a practice like an award, will only teach young boys in the crucial formative years, that one needs to be nice to a girl in order to be rewarded.
3. In most of the dowry death and bride burning cases aren’t the in-laws involved? And don’t those in-laws include women?
Maneka Gandhi’s statements are stereotypical. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that the Union Minister for Women and Child Development has a very flawed and myopic understanding about gender issues. Needless to say, she sent out a very wrong message to the school children.
The learning that needs to be imparted to young boys and girls is of mutual respect irrespective of gender, caste, religion, race. Mutual respect for each other’s bodies and as human beings.