This textbook on gender is as relevant inside a classroom as outside
GN Bureau | March 8, 2022
A World of Equals: A Textbook on Gender
Edited by Susie Tharu, A. Suneetha and Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda
Orient BlackSwan, 170 pages, Rs 195
Equality is an ideal – celebrated in revolutions, enshrined in the Constitution – but the world is progressing slowly, if at all, in approximating it. Several fault lines crisscross the society, giving rise to different categories of inequalities: economic, caste, community and gender among others. The last, however, is crucial. There is a biological aspect to it which makes it central to every society, every culture down the ages.
In modern times, and especially in the last century or so, women are stepping out of their homes, taking their life in their own hands to an extent. But they still have to struggle against prejudices ingrained over the centuries. Persuading someone to challenge his or her unquestioningly held opinions, making them confront their lazy thinking is a very difficult task, as we realize in these polarized times. But as far as gender matters are concerned, parents, teachers and activists have a valuable resource in this textbook.
‘A World of Equals: A Textbook on Gender’ attempts to sensitise readers to gender and gender-related issues. It stresses equality rather than ‘women’s empowerment’, and hence devotes space to experiences of ‘being boy’ and ‘becoming man’ too.
The editors – Susie Tharu, a founder-member of Anveshi, Hyderabad, A. Suneetha, Senior Fellow at Anveshi, and Uma Maheswari Bhrugubanda, who teaches at the EFL University, Hyderabad and is associated with Anveshi – cover the whole gamut in fifteen units: expanding from gender to inequalities of race, religious affiliation, class, caste, disability and the sexual spectrum.
To know Susie Tharu better: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susie_Tharu
More on Anveshi: https://www.anveshi.org.in/
While intended for use in a coursework, it is not what you’d expect of a textbook – it is lively. Its friendly tone invites the reader to join a discussion rather than sit through a lecture. It also helps that the text is peppered with examples drawn from popular literature, films and advertisements. It is interactive too, accompanied by an app that provides links to resources mentioned in the text.
For structured courses in schools and colleges, ‘A World of Equals’ would be a part of recommending reading, but it is far more useful elsewhere: at the dinner table, in community meeting. Ideally, parents should sit with young adults and explore together one unit at a time. More ideally, other kinds of inequalities too should be taken up in similarly produced ‘textbooks’.
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