Friday, January 11, 2013

Teach Gender Equality Early

Teach gender equality early

Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
Fortious Nhambura Gender Forum
Zimbabwe Herald

Our early years have a bearing in our later lives. The things that we are taught in our formative years shape the way we think and act in our later years. This is also true of the ideas that we are taught on gender roles and equality. As such we ought to teach our young people on the importance of gender equality in societal development if they are to become gender equality conscious.

Gender equality should be taught in the home — that is at the family unit, educational institutions and every part of the society. This is the only way we can achieve knowledge of equality of sexes.

According to Mosse Julia Cleeves, gender is the social and cultural constructs which, while based on the biological sex of a person, defines his or her roles in society as taught and learnt.

It has nothing to do with the difference in sexes. What we teach our children should be equality not difference.

While in the past it was normal for girls to do all house chores while the males played and discovered the world, this is fast fading and it is critical that we impart self belief in our girls so that they are able to claim their space.

Wikipedia defines gender equality as parity of the genders and implies that men and women should receive equal treatment unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment. The concept is based on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and aims at ensuring equality in law and social situations.

It is an integral part of a democratic society. As Zimbabwe builds its democracy, there is therefore a need to teach our future the importance of equality of sexes in social development. Gender equality does not imply that women and men are the same, but that they have equal value and should be accorded equal treatment.

According to, it is irrelevant to gender equality whether men and women make the same choices. It would be naive to assume that men and women should start making exactly the same choices but that man and each woman is truly free to choose whatever path seems right to him or her.

Surely the country will be shooting itself in the foot if it continues to ignore the contribution of more than half of its population based on flimsy reasons. It is thus critical that Zimbabwe educational system promotes the teaching of gender studies from primary education upwards.

The basic concepts that should form the basis of the teaching should be the realisation that sexuality is not exclusive and that men and women are equally valuable to society. It is important to note that the two sexes compliment each other and are thus inseparable.

Although male and female brains are sometimes good at different things, research has shown there is no marked brain capacity.

In other words all that men can do, women can also do. The gender roles that we were taught in the formative years have mistakenly been used to define our difference.

It is highly uncalled for that some schools are reportedly advising girls to take arts and commercial subjects and leave sciences and other technical subjects to boys. This idea of promoting subjects like Food and Nutrition, Fashion and Fabrics and Arts among women not only confine the girl child in the kitchen but also promote differences in sexes resulting in gender discrimination.

This has managed to lower the girl child personal esteem. Such characterisation has helped instill the stereotypes that characterise our society today.

The women that have made it should not be conduits of gender discrimination by confining female children in the house but encourage them to take more challenging roles in society.

We know of women who have gone to excel in once male domains like medicine, engineering, aviation, construction, sports and in country liberation struggle. Such women have chosen not to be bystanders but active players in the making of present day Zimbabwe. In fact such women should be supported so that they continue to inspire the search for gender equity.

The modern society has shown that women may do some things, which for long have been a male dominion better if they are given that chance.

The difference in capabilities in males and females can be equated to the differences between individuals. Thus a good grounding in the equality of sexes in the early years will give an imprint on behaviour in later life.

As the country continues to develop the educational curriculum to suit the evolving society, it is imperative that children are taught that rights and responsibilities are related. Surely if one wants to claim a right for self, he of she must be prepared to take the resultant responsibilities.

Once this is imparted in our children it would be easy to promote gender equality as our children will be able to understand that the difference in sex does not entail hierarchy but mean complimentary roles.

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