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Kerala Textbook leads the way in addressing Gender Roles within Indian households


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Kerala Textbook leads the way in addressing Gender Roles within Indian households

A textbook in Kerala’s state school curriculum shows an entire family in a kitchen. The mother is at the stove, busy cooking, and the daughter is helping her out — nothing we haven’t seen before. But what has the entire country talking about it is the father, in the kitchen. The image, shared online by General Education Minister V Sivankutty, shows the father knelt on the floor. He is scraping coconut that will probably be used later. The son is clutching a toy and watches his father work.

Gender roles have become tiringly exclusive to women

In India, it is very novel and heartwarming to see the men in the family help the female members, in tasks specifically meant for the latter. Gender equality might not be as realistic as it is touted to be. But it is very much possible to help break the stereotypes that men can never be a part of activities that are traditionally deemed to be performed by women. While certain ill-established traditions have meant that women have to bear the brunt of household work while men are expected to work outside and earn, it is initiatives such as these, which help break these stereotypes. We have gradually seen a shift towards perception when it comes to working women, and initiatives like the one undertaken by Kerala’s education ministry, go a long way in instilling such important beliefs during early childhood.

An ad released by children’s drink brand Horlicks talks about this very statement, but it didn’t gather much praise. It shows a married couple during the time of COVID-19, and the wife is either a nurse or a doctor. The husband, who works remotely, whips up a thermos of Horlicks for her, listing out its beneficial nutrients. He says, “It doesn’t matter if we meet or not in the day, but she should be getting her immunity nutrients, everyday.” Here’s a working man that is concerned about his wife’s health, and does his best to protect her. That probably has become too much to ask for women from their husbands, because the ad makers wouldn’t have reversed the roles otherwise.

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Children need to see a healthy allotment of roles between either parent

The Kerala government’s move to introduce this idea for such a young class is remarkable. Children form their opinions and perspectives based on what they live through growing up. A student who saw the pictures was surprised, and showed them to her father, PTI reports. She also questioned him why he, like the father in the picture, doesn’t help out in the kitchen. While it is important for men to go out and work to put food on the table, it is the woman who has to make the food after all. And it wouldn’t hurt to make her life easier. Children will implement in their adult lives what they see while growing up. Seeing their fathers in the kitchen along with the mothers will surely do more good to them, and their futures.

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