The Brihanmumbai Municipality Corporation (BMC) schools recently included a special kind of education in their school to tackle gender-based stereotypes settling in children from a young age. The programme launched by British Council plans to undo the gender roles seeds already sown in young children’s minds through a combination of dance and sports.

The entire initiative is titled ‘Changing Moves Changing Minds’ and has famous dance choreographer Terence Lewis as its brand ambassador. Apart from dance, cricket is the chosen sport for this effort to spread awareness around gender inclusivity and sensitivity. This project is a well-known international one which has been brought together by the collaboration of British Council, the Royal Academy of Dance (UK) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (UK) to counter gender stereotypes at a very young age.

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Aditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena’s Yuva Sena President, launched the project at BMC English High School, Worli on Friday and tweeted, “We launched British Council’s “Changing Moves, Changing Minds” initiative in BMC schools today to break gender stereotypes & equality as a mind-set from early schooling years. The program will be run by BMC trainers, trained by Royal Dance Academy and the Marylebone Cricket Club.”

Students in the age group of 10-12 years from Std V, VI and VII will be taught under this project that is promised to be incorporated in 1187 Mumbai municipal corporation run schools starting October 2019.

“We are hopeful that with this intervention, children studying in BMC schools would get exposure of beyond the classroom activities which would help them to understand gender stereotypes and how to address them,” said Praveen Pardeshi, Commissioner, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

Over 80 Master Trainers have been trained across Odisha, Maharashtra, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore so far. The current programme is the largest CMCM programme in India so far with an aim to train over 120 Master Trainers in the city.

Inherently at a very young age children start picking up gender stereotypes of what a boy and a girl is supposed to be like so it is very important to start early. The way things are to in terms of how we have only now started to have a conversation around gender sensitivity in is telling that there is lots that needs to be revised and unlearned in our mind-set.

“We have only started the journey of gender inclusion in education and a lot needs to be done very carefully and sensibly. Whatever start we are making is great but then we will start aligning them with nuances but right now any start is a great start.”

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Speaking to educationist Meeta Sengupta about this issue, she tells SheThePeople.TV, “Traditionally the first place of learning for children is the home and according to neuroscience, children start receiving signals from the age of three months. And a lot of the gendered belief is encoded in the ecosystem that continues to reinforce among our younger generation. The notions like girls like pink and boys like blue and girls can cry and boys can’t be ideas sowed in on the minds of people very early on in time.”

Sengupta is of the view that we are still at the stage of scratching the surface in terms of initiative gender sensitivity drives and amalgamating it in our education system. “We have only started the journey of gender inclusion in education and a lot needs to be done very carefully and sensibly. Whatever start we are making is great but then we will start aligning them with nuances but right now any start is a great start.”

Picture credit: Aditya Thackeray/ Twitter

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