Biased gender views rife among adolescentsA survey on adolescents (10-19 years) in 15 districts show that although both boys and girls believe in gender equality, girls are more likely to face discrimination.
The study jointly conducted by the Population Council of Unicef, Centre for Research on Environment, Health and Population Activities, and Yuwalaya also shows that discrimination is more prevalent at homes than at schools.
Twenty-six percent of the 1,634 girls interviewed reported discrimination at home while the percentage of girls who reported the same at schools was 16. Only six and seven percent of the 1,366 boys reported discrimination at home and schools.
Gender disparity is starker on topics such as arranged marriage, divorce, masculinity, and gender-based violence. While 60 percent of the respondents believe that boys can refuse arranged marriages, only 46 percent believe the same for girls. Compared to 75 percent of boys believing in their right to divorce, only 56 percent feel the same about the girls’ right.
The adolescents also think that the girls’ most important role is “to take care of the home”, while men need to be tough and defend their reputation. Almost half of the young people consider violence on girls justifiable, and that they should tolerate it to maintain harmony in the family.
These discriminatory views on gender despite various governmental and non-governmental interventions has come as a surprise. “We need to re-evaluate and adopt better strategies now,”
says Ashish Bajracharya, associate at the Population Council and a surveyor of the baseline study.
Combined lunch against discrimination
Saraswati Primary School of Lakhani village in Baglung has introduced a combined lunch programme for teachers and students to discourage the practice of untouchability in the village.
We want to send the message to the villagers that everyone is equal, said Durga Devi Gurung, the school principal. “To prosper as a society, we have to keep an open mind and work together as a community without discriminating one another,” she said.
The Dalit parents, who grew up in a society entrenched in caste discrimination, are happy to see their children eating alongside non-Dalit children.
“In our time, we were not allowed to eat alongside the upper caste people during social gatherings.
We ate separately with our own people, and we had to wash the plates after we had finished our meal,” said a parent, Amrita Nepali.
Dalit rights activist Khim Bahadur Sarki said the step taken by the students of Saraswati Primary School has played a huge role in minimising discrimination in the village.
“The other schools in the village should also start the combined lunch programme. That way, the parents and the villagers can learn about the negative impacts of discrimination.”