92Y partnered with UN Women & UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development focusing on defining and developing youth-led genius solutions for gender equality. From New York to New Delhi, and Anchorage to Guatemala City — in dozens of events around the world and through online content — 92Y’s “7 Days of Genius” ignited a global conversation to explore the power of genius to make a positive impact on the world.
On 8th March, 2016 (International Women’s Day) an event was organized by the Youth Representative to UN & Global Youth Advocate, Saket Mani (under the guidance of Senior Advisor to UN Assistant Secretary General & Deputy Executive Director of UN-Women) in Delhi Technology University from 4pm to 7 pm. The purpose was to allow students and young people to present their Genius Idea with a focus on providing solutions for achieving Planet 50-50. Each of the participants was to answer the following questions:
- What is a genius idea, according to you?
- What is your genius idea to achieving gender equality – planet 50 – 50 by 2030?
- Why should we be talking about Gender Equality?
It is rightly said that one can find the best solutions and most unique of perspectives from amongst the young people themselves. Even though most of the students were attending a discussion on gender equality for the first time, they came up with some amazing solutions. A student from the rural area of Haryana surprised everyone by talking about CEDAW and the correlation of Gender inequality with violence in India. I was quite happy to engage with him and soon everyone joined in.
“Because a big part of the inequality is that women aren’t taken as seriously as men, we can and should push to make their voices heard. We need to remind ourselves that stereotypes aren’t always true. Make the same assumption about her ability that you’d make for a man: Competent until proven otherwise, rather than insisting she prove she knows what she’s doing” said Sadiq Hasan, one of the male students.
“Gender equality is not just improving the 933:1000 sex ratios. It is the creation of a society where everyone has fair and equal chances of survival and proving their potential” said Deepanshu Rajoria, another male participant.
“I don’t expect that till 2030, gender equality can be achieved specially in India. A fact said that it took 20 years for the world to realize that this issue needs to be resolved, so in the upcoming 14 years how can this be settled fairly! But I really hope that our country altogether moves up and reduces the inequality if not completely” , said another female participant.
The discussion evolved from addressing the gender gap to more awareness of their right. It involved heavy discussion around feminism and why some women make it all about male bashing. It also involved what can be done to prevent female foeticide, child marriage and holding the government or local legislation accountable. Some of them were using more digital approaches as a part of their solutions such as HeForShe, opening virtual discussion forums, having more weeks such as ‘7 days of Genius’ every month dedicated to gender equality.
The participants not only contributed to the pool of ideas but also learnt many more themselves along the way. They weren’t just informed, rather their perspective and understanding evolved as the discussion progressed. Changing attitude of even one individual is the starting of our journey.
Some of the Genius Solutions included:
- Parents are our first teachers. So training parents is extremely crucial to shape up the environment of the house. It will also prevent the children from getting exposed to domestic violence.
- Today media is one of the biggest sources that shape our knowledge and also the biggest channel of communication. Bollywood has a huge influence on both educated & uneducated masses. Doing female centric movies more often or showcasing strong female characters that breaks stereotypes or orthodox mindset has a huge impact. Making more movies like He Named Me Malala, Neerja etc would surely change the attitudes of people. Children generally grow up watching cartoons. These cartoons have a major impact in their lives and that’s how they shape their attitudes.
- Having more female role models and making people aware about them can be one effective tool.
- It’s also important not to “go along to get along” when people (especially people in authority) joke about their “stupid” wives, how women love to shop, and so forth. And in some ways, remind yourself that stereotypes aren’t always true. Stifle your surprise when you meet a woman who tells you that she’s software engineer, civil engineer, welder, athlete, doctor, or anything else, rather than treating her like some kind of novelty.
- Gender equality can be promoted by doing social media campaign, street plays etc.
- Women must realize their potential to fight back and for this they need to have the knowledge of self-defense, which can be successfully achieved at school levels by introducing ‘Self Defense Classes’ as a mandatory subject for girls.
The discussion was so intense that we had a boy from Nepal who passionately compared gender gap in Nepal and India. None of these were very technical but more on their everyday observances. The enthusiasm was palpable, despite being informed that they were 1hr 45 mins ahead of closure, the students were so engrossed that they weren’t willing to stop the discussion. The engagement ensured that all of participants took much more with them than what they had come to offer.
Additionally a day before Saket Mani had helped UN Women organize a rally to celebrate Planet 50 50. Attended by over 100 participants, with amazing energy even at 7am despite the rain! The participants also went around asking random people on the street about genius solution for gender equality.