Chennai

Towards countering gendered designs

Founder Gulika Reddy (in picture) is hoping to effect attitudinal changes, through sessions in activity and art — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

How do you counter the messages of gender stereotypes, violent imagery and set ideas on sexuality and identity that are constantly bombarding your children, through media and in social circles?

Well, you catch them young.

With this broad idea in mind, Schools of Equality, an organisation, aims to effect social change by engaging with high school students through activity and art.

Founder Gulika Reddy, a human rights lawyer, says one of the main reasons the idea came about was her own experience with law. “We have laws in place, but there is a problem when it comes to addressing issues, such as gender-based violence, as society condones them,” she says.

A group of class XI students of Sishya, a school in Adyar with an ICSE syllabus, gather every week to listen to people from various fields address issues revolving around identity, power and injustice, in the context of equality.

Past sessions have included ones on violence and healthy relationships by Anupama Srinivasan of Prajnya, an NGO, gender and caste by V. Geetha of Tara Books, and film and gender by cinematographer Anshu.

Ms. Reddy has prepared a separate programme for the students, which is incorporated into the main curriculum. “We explore themes and at the same time don’t want them to feel disempowered. On the other hand, we hope to influence attitudinal changes when they are still young,” she says.

They also have sessions of expression through art, music or group work, where personal experiences emerge and discussions ensue. According to Sandhya Thomas, the value education and psychology teacher at the school, the course has helped. “It really is the right age to mould them into embracing differences in society and learning equality,” Ms. Thomas says.

This is the pilot year for the organisation, which has also been working with Abacus Montessori School in Perungudi and the Chennai hub of the Global Shapers Community, a group of young people working on social impact projects. But the fledgling group has bigger plans. “We want to work with Corporation schools, are preparing a curriculum that suits them. We hope to be able to do that next year,” Ms. Reddy says.

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2020 1:56:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/towards-countering-gendered-designs/article6622617.ece

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