International Women’s Day: Why we need to educate our children on gender equality

International Women’s Day calls for a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women across all cultures. The occasion is primarily meant to emphasise the importance of women’s rights and gender equality in a world where sexism remains prevalent in society today, as evidenced by the lack of equal pay, equal employment, and equal rights, to name a few.

As female empowerment becomes highly necessary in today’s climate, society is progressively experiencing favourable changes in the advancement of women’s social status which hope to bring a more gender-balanced society. Closing the gender gap is difficult, but that reason alone should not discourage us from educating our contemporaries on the importance of gender equality. Most importantly, one should not shy away from teaching children on this issue.

If the youth are inculcated with appropriate knowledge on this topic early on, it could change their worldview for years to come.

Picture this—a world with better racial equality, healthier children with adequate education, and reduction of poverty rate, is this not the world we all wish to live in today? While it certainly feels far-fetched, the road to this vision could be sped up if we learn how to educate our children on the pressing issue of gender inequality early on. Here are five ways you can start doing so today!

5 Ways to educate children on gender equality

Avoid limiting your child’s activities

While you certainly need to limit your child’s screen time for a better mind and productivity, do allow them to be in control of where their interests lie. Seeing how most sources of education and entertainment stem in digital today, children can be exposed to all sorts of things which could lead to early passion discovery.

With so much at their disposal, children these days have endless potential to be anything they want. However, curtailing activities based on biological sex may stunt a child’s development. This is because playing with gender-specific toys tend to develop different skills and traits; male-labelled toys promote spatial skills, whereas female-labelled toys inspire sociability and caring. If children are limited to the type of play according to their gender, they could fail to develop certain skills. So, let your little ones reach their full potential as they experiment with different subjects, activities or even toys.

Open conversations

Children today are spending most of their time online. And what this means to parents is that their little ones will have exposure to the outside world, or at least how the media portrays the outside world. And in order to avoid them from getting the wrong impression on how they should behave following their gender, the best option is to practice open conversations. It is up to the parent to teach their kids early on with words and actions by pointing out gender stereotypes whenever necessary to let them know that such portrayals are mostly the byproduct of mediatization.

Diversify children’s learning

Again, with the mass media at our fingertips, parents must use it to educate children instead of the other way around. As the media usually tend to highlight and downplay certain real-world contentious issues related to race and gender, parents could educate children on these weighty issues by using films and books. Through these mediums, children will witness the representation of people from different backgrounds coming together for a greater good, regardless of gender and races.

Challenge your child’s stereotypes

The need to conform and categorise is real. Questions like “why can’t boys play with dolls”, “why can’t girls collect Hot Wheels”, or “why pink is for girls” are usually asked by children to make sure that they follow the gender ‘rules’ they have identified or learned from the media or their peers. When this happens, parents are best to assert firmly without disparaging a child’s beliefs. This can be done by giving real-life examples that challenge the non-conformity, such as women can be firefighters and men are welcomed to do needlework with embroidery and sewing!

Teaching children to be respectful of one another

It is crucial to educate children on the importance of cultural diversity and the beauty of coexistence at a young age. Teaching them to keep an open mind early on will get them to share a sense of empathy, hence appreciate and respect others from different backgrounds. This will prevent children from becoming myopic and discriminating against others solely due to differences in body sizes, gender, and races, as they learn there is no “right” or a “perfect” appearance, for example.

Educating our children on gender equality at a young age is important today as we help them to build their confidence, explore who they are and what they want to be. If you have any thoughts to share, drop a comment down below!

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