By Volunteer Nidhi Lohia, FHI Kolkata
Children, in their very disposition, resemble a sponge; they soak in every minute information that is fed to them and imitate every person in their surroundings, especially their family members. The manner in which they are groomed at such an innocent age, when they do not possess conscience of their own, ultimately moulds their personality. Social evils such as casteism, gender discrimination, racial abuse etc have penetrated so deeply into the social mechanism that more often than not, they have been normalized and efforts to curb or eradicate them have proved to be futile. When children get exposed to such evils, with no one to teach them the difference between right and wrong, these evils get internalized and become an integral part of their daily lifestyle.
Children are not mentally developed to comprehend the gravity of such social evils and hence we can endeavor to explain them through simple and unique means. One of the important components of gender discrimination includes gender roles where specific roles are assigned to a specific gender and anyone flouting them is often subjected to ridicule. While conducting our activities, we can encourage both girls and boys to work together in unison and complete every task, whether that task involves physical strength or mental ability. By teaching them that any task or activity can be fulfilled by anyone, and it does not depend upon the gender but their own talent and ability, we can remove a major hurdle in establishing a society free of gender bias.
The blooming cosmetic industry, selling skin lightening products, vividly depicts how beauty has unfortunately become akin to lighter skin tone. Similarly, even though untouchability, discrimination based on caste etc have almost been eradicated, still they take the form of insults or psychological harassment. We can narrate stories, perform skits where we convey the message of brotherhood and unity, the fact that skin colour or caste are insignificant in shaping the future of an individual.
Children learn more through visual depictions or fun activities and we at FHI can stage small plays, skits to depict the social evils and the ways in which they can be curbed. Efforts can be made to mitigate these social evils and the process should always initiate with children, as they determine the future of the society we live in and we, at FHI, can play a vital role in grooming these young minds through the activities we undertake and the manner in which we function.