Women and girls always occupy the forefront when it comes to gender-based interventions. While it holds true that most gender discrimination is faced by women, the fight for a world with gender justice cannot be won by mobilising girls alone.
Keeping this in mind, Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ IMAGE project in India which works on the empowerment of child brides, conducts regular awareness sessions with men and boys to sensitise them on girl child issues.
One such session was conducted in Bagalkot district, Karnataka by IMAGE staff. The whole idea behind this session was to engage young men and talk about different ways to unlearn gender stereotypes. The session was attended by 72 adolescent boys along with 10 community members.
The boys were divided into smaller groups and were made to analyse the different ways in which gender stereotypes work in their lives. They were further asked to share different ways they can unlearn these stereotypes. An example brought out was unlearning the stereotype of men being the breadwinners of the family and women being restricted to domestic roles. Boys said that they could advocate for the gender balance of work at home and explain how roles in life need not be sketched out by gender alone.
A great way to eradicate gender stereotypes is by involving both girls and boys at an early age to talk about the issues they face and then together finding solutions to undo these behaviours and actions. That is what IMAGE is focussing on in the rural districts of Karnataka to fight off child marriage which has its roots in gender stereotypes and harmful social norms.