How to raise a gender-sensitive generation

EXCERPT: Nishtha Anand’s new book is a ‘Guide to Gender Equality’

Nishtha Anand | December 27, 2021


#equality   #employment   #career   #society   #Gender  
(Photo: Arun Kumar/GN)
(Photo: Arun Kumar/GN)

Awakening the Rainmaker: A Guide to Gender Equality
By Nishtha Anand
Bloomsbury India, 268 pages, Rs 499

Half the sky belongs to them, but on earth women are usually pushed to a corner. In family, workplaces and various walks of life, they remain under-represented. Governments have tried several interventions; society has come to agree in principle that boys and girls, men and women are on equal footing; but in practice structural inequalities remain. Yet, change is taking place, even if it is three steps ahead and two back.

The momentum of change can go up if we, as individuals, are more alert to gender prejudices and work to counter them, at the dinner table, in classrooms, in offices, in city buses and elsewhere.

Nishtha Anand, a strategy professional with experience in investment banking and strategy, has written a highly readable guide to this process of empowerment, ‘Awakening the Rainmaker’. She tells life-changing stories. She speaks with some of the most influential women in India, and Padma awardees, sportspersons, CEOs and others tells the reader how they made it and what each of us needs to do to let others make it.
 
It is “a much needed piece of work carved out taking into account the peculiar situation of Indian women who tread and balance multiple stakeholders – spouse/partner, children, parents, in-laws, relatives (the society!), corporate stakeholders, the likes of managers, peers, juniors, HR, etc. (if the woman is working).”

The book was “born out of the need to nudge women, their families and organisations with practical hacks for awakening the rainmaker in them who is hidden and burdened by the compulsion to lead a life defined by society’s gender template.”

Here is an excerpt from the book:

CALL TO ACTION

[Gender equality is] the great unfinished business of the 21st century.
Hillary Clinton
Lawyer and politician

As a parent, be equal and fair. As an individual, be assertive. As a professional, be open-minded and pragmatic. As a leader, be free of bias and walk the talk on equality. That would be my earnest request to all my readers.

I’d like to reiterate a few key takeaways for different stages of life and where each one of us can make a difference.

A gender-neutral approach

History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.
Nelson Mandela
Former President of South Africa

For grassroots change towards achieving gender equality in its true sense, the most important step is a gender-neutral upbringing. Only when we raise children by giving them equal opportunities and imparting the same set of values will we enable them to realise their potential. Therefore, the next time you come across a karate class, have both your son and daughter give it a try. Basic life skills such as cooking and self-defence should be taught to both boys and girls. Empower them to be the best version of whatever they seek to be; raise your kids as bundles of unlimited potential unrestricted by their gender. Don’t let the conventions of society dictate to you how to raise your children. Bring in the change you want to see in the world.

My husband and I have taken a pledge to raise our child as an individual capable of realising her potential to the fullest by providing a nurturing environment for her to grow in. We won’t let our parenting philosophy be governed by age-old conventions defined by gender. I invite all the mothers and fathers reading this book to take the same pledge and spread awareness around them (#MothersPledgeToEquality and #FathersPledgeToEquality). Let each child grow up freely to realise their personal calling unhindered by societal norms and definitions.

Assertiveness in action

Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.
Margaret Mead
Cultural anthropologist and writer

Just like we wholeheartedly teach our children ‘A for apple’, as adults let’s wholeheartedly learn ‘A for assertive’ and see to it that we raise our voice if we experience any bias or observe any instance of it around us. United we will stand and win, while divided we will fall to the age-old inequalities and gendered approach to living. Let’s walk towards gender equality with a consistent and committed effort with no deviations, because even one exception runs the risk of making it the norm.

Freedom of choice

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
Nelson Mandela
Former President of South Africa

When it comes to the choices we need to make from time to time, just remember to do so with free will. Pave your own way as your circumstances allow rather than giving in to societal pressures and expectations.

While making a career choice, evaluate the organisation on the diversity management parameter and the nature of policies it has to ensure the inside-out wellness of all its employees. An organisation with a healthy representation of diverse people is not only fair
in its practices but is also merit led, devoid of biases and performs better financially. Such an organisation can prove to be a better employer in the long run and be the place where one can make a career for life.

As I draw to the end of the book, I recall an African proverb, ‘If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’. So, let’s focus on educating all women, all mothers, and urge them to live up to their potential and pursue their passion rather than getting lost in the stereotypical template that society has defined for them. With a pragmatic, non-gendered approach to parenting, let the upcoming generation of girls blossom into empowered women and let the upcoming generation of boys turn into respectful men who, rather than feeling emasculated with the growing ambition of women, know how to share the load and live in a society of emancipated women reaching heights in personal as
well as professional life.

While I pray, hope and work towards a new beginning, here is a closing thought for fellow parents:

There are two things we should give our children—one is roots and the other is wings.

[Excerpt reproduced with the permission of the publishers.]

 

Comments

 

Other News

Coal production rises by 18% to 448 MT

The total coal production in the country stands at 448 million tonnes (MT) for the month of October 2022 which is 18% higher than the production of the corresponding period of last year. The growth of coal production from Coal India Ltd (CIL) is also more than 17%. The ministry of coal said

How to execute large-scale social impact projects

The number of social innovators and entrepreneurs has considerably increased recently in India. The idea of social entrepreneurship, which aspires to provide novel solutions for the world`s most critical social issues, is now receiving more attention. Challenges like overworked healthcare,

Plastic is no longer a waste management issue

Plastic is arguably the most ubiquitous material of our times. In this Age of Plastic, it might seem its use can’t go up any further – and yet it keeps going. Between 2000 and 2015, global production of plastic increased by a whopping 79%. The total mass of plastics on our planet is now twice t

Celebrating the Ganit of Protein!

“Why is the child growing?” is the question that bothers a lot many in the administration. The answer, to be honest, is to be discovered via science, and less via what we call ‘effective administration’. Eventually, it will be the latter that will enforce the former on the field, bu

Trying to achieve work-life balance? Here’s some advice

The untapped potential of every individual is the biggest tragedy of the human race. The primary reason for this is our lack of awareness of the processes, tools and t

Getting to know Indian history’s heroes better

Bravehearts of Bharat: Vignettes from Indian History By Vikram Sampath Penguin, 334 pages, Rs 799 A student has an assignment

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter