A bid to make boys gender sensitive

New scheme

Gender sensitivity and women security has become the need of the hour in a country where women were once given the status of a goddess.

Sadly, it is the same country where gender violence and incidents of rape have acquired alarming proportions. Molestation, acid attacks, eve teasing and domestic violence, female foeticide are the other ugly aspects of gender violence.

If on one hand they are called the ‘Lakshmi’ of a household, on the other hand they are treated as ‘unimportant’ and a ‘burden’ in a male-dominated society that continues to hanker for a ‘son’ to uphold the family’s name and honour. It would be fair to say that the recent incidents of violence and sex-related crimes against women have made life and living impossible for women in this country.

To tackle this situation, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath recently launched, ‘Saksham’ – a scheme aimed at the all-round development of adolescent boys to make them self-reliant, gender-sensitive and good citizens as they grow up. This laudable endeavour hopes to address gender violence and channelise the energies of youngsters for nation-building.

The Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Boys, as it is also called, will also address the health needs – physical, mental and emotional – of boys and promote awareness of hygiene, nutrition and sexual and reproductive health.

Suman Sachdeva, Technical Director, education of Care India, an NGO working on issues related to education, gender and social biases, said, “This is a very important step taken by the Government, because if this can break the stereotype thinking of the men and boys in our country, it might help a lot in terms of handling cases related to sexual abuse.” The ‘ambitious’ scheme will cover all adolescent boys in the age-group of 11-18 years, sub-divided into the categories of 11-14 and 14-18. It aims to make adolescent boys gender-sensitive, to create sensitised ‘ahimsa messengers’ to address violence against women, to channelise their energies for nation
building, etc.

Elaborating on the issue, Suman says, “This is all because of the patriarchal systen that we are living in. It has made the men/boys think that they are superior; that girls will get married one day and go and that they are only meant for doing household chores. The ‘adolescent’ age is a very crucial age for boys, as this is the time when their hormones are working overtime. During this phase we should channelise their energies and power in a positive direction so that they don’t indulge in any wrongdoings. This will also help in their self-growth and contribute towards
nation building.”

The scheme will be supported by a dedicated Saksham unit or cell created at the Centre or in the State, district and block levels. The anganwadi centres will be the main points for the delivery of the services. And in those areas where anganwadi infrastructure is inadequate, community centres, schools  or panchayat halls will be used.

Rachna Bose, a teacher in a leading school in the City, said, “Inculcating such thoughts in young boys is very important keeping the current scenario in mind. They should never be told that girls are less powerful or that only girls should do the household work. And also, the whole thinking of a man ruling a family should change. A man cannot be the only decision-maker, even a single woman can run a family
very well.”

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