The first foggy and chilled morning of 2014 in Lucknow, I was pacing nervously in my bedroom at 3.30 in the morning. I had a workshop to deliver in five hours and I was still not prepared completely. After a short nap, I woke up exactly around six and began dressing up.
The school in the morning reminded me of my school days. Luckily, a school friend; Ruchika and a cousin Ajmal, accompanied me to the school- Dr Virendra Swaroop Public School. When we were in school, mornings like these were lazy and a lecture in the auditorium was not welcome by our faces.
I therefore began my workshop by asking “what is the best thing to do on a foggy morning like this?”
Different responses poured in when one student shyly said “sleeping.”
The moment everyone laughed, I got assured that I broke the first barrier; I made them smile! J
The discussion progressed from Human Rights to Gender Inequality and then to Gender Stereotyping.
To my surprise, the participants responded with enthusiasm and the fog, the cold and the laziness didn’t matter anymore.
I was surprised at myself even that I didn’t take a second look at my script that’s how much I was into the discussion. And I was also surprised that the students did not seem to drift apart at any moment throughout the workshop.
Crucial issues were raised when a young lady questioned that why do boys make comments on her physical appearance as it’s not their matter… To this, a fantastic teacher responded “because they have nothing else better to do” and we all applauded her spontaneity and logic.
The event had many such highlights which are all part of the documentary film; (work in progress). The interview with the teachers after the event however brought the results in day light.
A Home Science teacher enthusiastically came forward to share her feedback. She pointed out that after this workshop, boys who usually made fun of the Home Science Class, did not only participate in the class but also learnt how to bake cakes while promising to try it at homes!
Thus, there was an instant outcome- the stereotype around cooking and baking was broken and young boys could see past the ‘man’s job-woman’s job’ gender box.
We all know kids are impressionable but this little incident made me believe that children at this age are extremely eager to learn and it is easier to convince a young boy to cook and clean than to convince a 35 year old man to do the same. Young children are open minded. They have still not seen the restricted walls of the society.
This made me believe in my work more than ever. I am sure that most of these children may not even remember my name but I, like most other adults present there, think that they will remember the message I conveyed.
The mission of Project Ground Zero couldn’t have been fulfilled in a better way. It is after all creating change from within. These kids proved how simply possible it is to break the stereotypes of millions of generations and do the right thing.
A journey of a million miles begins with a single small step. My journey has begun. I don’t know how much gender equality would I see in my lifetime but I am confident that the revolution has begun.
When these children grow up, they would not repeat the same mistakes of the generations before them.
The world is not awful because of the bad people. It’s awful because the good ones stay quiet when they should have spoken. I am hopeful that these children would be among the ones who speak up.
Long live GENDER EQUALITY!