“Mom, we won the match!” shouted my 12-year-old son as he got home from school. “Akshi was too cool. She took the last goal in the last 4 minutes to spare”.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear him raving about his teammate who is a girl playing in his school soccer team. This gave me hope and made me think how times have changed. While I was growing up, girls were expected to play with dolls and playing with the “boys” in a football field was unthinkable. Gender norms have blurred over the years and have created space for both girls and boys to explore their creative self without any cultural inhibitions. Games and activities offer a fun way for young children to learn about differences and similarities among people and to introduce the concept of diversity – which is all about accepting and respecting the differences.
As social realities change, perceptions of just what non-discrimination looks like have also evolved. The mainstream media have started portraying modern women as strong women making pro career choices even during pregnancy. This is a welcome change from women seen as stereotypical housewives or damsels in distress. Men are shown as equal partners in household work and championing women in their choices. But with these choices, comes the responsibility to be a positive influence for your own self, family, colleagues and community.
While changes are visible, there is still a long way to go for a truly inclusive society. Brands & organisations are crying hoarse with advertisements & messages to promote diversity. But we need to ask the question is the needle truly moving? Is it still a customary tick in the box? Is it part of your essential business & economic imperative?
Diversity as an idea also has to evolve with the times. We celebrate the spirit of diversity in India with various cultures, festivals and religions, but it would have been more meaningful if we could celebrate different ideologies and differences. I am hoping that by the time our kids grow up – they will not question race, religion, nationality or gender. Its no longer just about gender equality – but it’s about Human equality. It is about respecting one human being to another. It is about inclusion which is truly meant for all.