For the uninitiated, ‘Taaron Ki Toli’, a program by Breakthrough, is a network of youth clubs in Haryana, which focuses on bringing about gender equality and youth empowerment. While Taaron Ki Toli is targeted at children to empower them and change gender-based discrimination, a few months back, Breakthrough decided to use the IVRS Radio as well, to target the parents of the children we were working with. The aim was not just to include the parents in our training program, but also to ensure reinforcement and revision of the lessons for the students.
We created a series of short episodes on IVRS Radio with two characters, Santo and Amit, a brother-sister pair. Through their conversations, every week, we picked up different topics related to gender and even adolescent issues like career choices, inter-generational dialogue etc.
The themes and issues that we pick are based on our own research and experiences with the children on the field. One topic we talked about was how to choose a stream (science/commerce/arts) after class 10. We realized that the children would mostly pick a stream based on gendered career aspirations (boys should be engineers or doctors, so they should take up science, girls should be teachers so they should take up arts, or sometimes girls would even drop out of school because they don’t really need to work!). There were hardly any children who would think about what they are naturally good at or what they had an aptitude for. We felt that this wrong choice of subject stream in class 10 can actually lead to a lot of frustration and discontent in future when some of them might end up realizing that they don’t have the aptitude for the subject they chose. We also felt that it is extremely important that children choose their career based on their interest rather than their gender expectations.
We have dedicated many episodes in giving examples to children of how gendered career stereotypes have been broken by people and how to go about choosing the right subject stream. Here are some episodes where we talk about the importance of choosing the right stream and choosing a career that you feel for.
In Episode 5 Santo and Amit talk about the importance of knowing and understanding one’s interest before choosing a stream.
In Episode 6 we tell the story of a girl who fought with her parents to do the subject of her choice:
In Episode 7 we talk to an auto driver…who is a woman! Listen to her very interesting story here:
In Episode 8, we continue to encourage children to break stereotypes. Here we talk to a female wrestler from Haryana itself, who won a medal in the prestigious Commonwealth Games. She talks about the challenges she faces as a woman wrestler.