Gender in Education: A Shift from Ideology to Action

GENDER PARITY in access to education is a common discourse shared by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over the past two decades, most countries have taken a wide range of initiatives to achieve equal participation of male and female students in primary and secondary education. However, positive changes in numbers and quality are still lagging behind SDG Goals. In 1992, 42.5% of girls in South Asia attended primary school. In 2012 the scenario remained unchanged. However, trying to achieve gender equality only by increasing the equal participation of boys and girls does not help to achieve the original goal.

Equal participation of both sexes in education certainly means equal rights in access to education. But the notion of gender parity lies in an individual psychology and actions that correlate with psychology. Increased enrollment of female students in education does not necessarily ensure gender equality. Many people see women’s participation as an essential tool to remove social stigma, which doesn’t necessarily change the age-old mentality about gender equality and equality. Such a mindset is lacking in most next-generation girls and women. As a result, the number of female participants has remained almost unchanged over the period. In order to change this psychology, you need to take a complicated path of learning and understanding the need for both sexes and practicing it in real life. Actions consistent with an ongoing ideological shift in gender equality increase the chance of creating a protracted timeline for continued gender equality. Therefore, psychological change is one of the main elements to bring about the expected change in gender parity. Access to education can ensure women’s right to education, but access to an equal mindset can ensure women’s right not only to education but in all areas of life.

Designing such a tricky way to ensure gender equality is not easy. Gender issues are perceived differently by male and female students. In order to change the preconceived stereotypes of gender roles, gender issues need to be included in school textbooks. Unique ideas must be developed to penetrate the typical notion of gender roles that has been built up in patriarchy over the years. Educational curricula need to be linguistically realigned to reflect gender equality. Gender issues should be treated separately between male and female students, as the perception of gender roles differs between men and women. A general textbook description of gender equality is insufficient if it does not stimulate the default psychology to bring about the expected changes. Contemporary curricula need to be restructured with evolving gender issues and notions of gender roles and equality in the workplace to bring about positive psychological change.

Once the change is made, the thought group can be implemented through practical actions. Embracing mental changes and practicing equal gender roles must run in parallel. A positive psychological change of gender equality can be driven by protracted actions in society. If necessary, students can be taught differently than the students, since gender roles are patriarchal. On the other hand, school-age students must be introduced to gender education and innovative ideas in order to raise their voice in the patriarchy. A comprehensive and inclusive approach is mandatory to teach and preach to both sexes about gender roles, issues, equality and justice.

When such a gender-neutral role evolves spiritually and persists through generations, there is a higher chance of bringing about positive change with a gender-neutral role. This ideological shift reminds us of Dr. Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach, which emphasizes ideological change by making free choices to control the quality of life. The psychological development of gender equality brings similar implications to make an independent decision about gender roles. The ability to make gender-neutral decisions goes hand in hand with ideological changes and practices through combined actions.

Only if we are able to change the psychological construction of students from an early age and transmit these changes through generations will the idea of ​​increasing the participation of women among school children come to light. The need to increase female participation should be addressed among both male students and future generations. The process must be adjusted accordingly. Any overarching approach to gender neutrality could be counterproductive and ineffective. An increased number of female students may represent access to education, but not access to a gender-equal world.