Exploring Gender- Navigating the Spectrum of Gender in a Diverse World 

In a world where diversity should be celebrated with inclusion as a goal, there are several variations of gender to be explored and understood. I grew up in rural India in a traditional environment with strong views on gender and the expectations of girls and boys. I have since traveled across continents, broadening my perspective and allowing me to reflect on my personal experiences. Yet, I remain confused and so continually strive to learn more about gender issues.

When people ask about gender and share their perspectives, one thing is very clear: everyone should read, discuss, and learn while ensuring that they observe and reflect on the circumstances within their own community and the people with whom they work. How do individuals navigate their identity, domestic and professional roles, and societal expectations? The challenge is not only to understand gender issues but also to accept the circumstances and act to create a more inclusive world for everyone, regardless of their chosen identity.

There are places in the world where people can openly discuss gender and understand their part of the story, but the reality for many is that even having a discussion about the rights of women and girls can be challenging. When it comes to inequality, it doesn’t only affect girls and women; it affects everyone. Non-binary individuals and people who are transgender are often forced to live as per society’s rules. When discussing gender with my peers, one of my friends says that in the context of gender, women are victims and men are privileged victims, and while talking about women, we always forget to include men. When discussing equality and equity, it should not be limited to gender; it should be a consideration that crosses gender boundaries and becomes a policy for humanity. 

In many traditional parts of India, families are still unaccepting of girls. Parents desire to have a son and will continually fall pregnant in the hope of producing a boy. Some use illegal means to check the sex of their fetus. In the 21st century, we have the additional complication of non-binary individuals who choose not to identify as male or female, which throws a grey, blurry line over what has previously been considered black, white, and definitive. In this context, understanding gender as a whole from a broader perspective feels confusing.

Perhaps this is the reason why, in some countries, it is illegal to identify as non-binary (neither male nor female). Laws are designed to protect us, but they depend on certainty and clarity, which is not always the case if someone is gender fluid or gender neutral. A clear and contentious example of this can be seen in professional sports. Should individuals who are born biologically male but later choose to identify as female be allowed to compete against individuals who were born female? Is this fair? A traditionalist would argue not, but someone with a more liberal mindset might disagree. 

In my opinion, one of the problems that women face is that we have grown up in a world surrounded by male role models, and we strive to be like them and compare ourselves to them. When we discuss women’s rights, it is often in the context of equality to men. However, I feel there are clear differences between men and women, and as such, women should not feel the need to compare themselves to men. The gap between all people in society can be reduced by understanding each other’s challenges and accepting each other’s differences rather than drawing gender comparisons.

I am learning how to facilitate these conversations without being insensitive, and that is where Purposeful Play helps me. Coaches Across Continents uses Purposeful Play and Self-Directed Learning outside the classroom. We ask challenging questions, allowing coaches to open up and share the issues of their communities and how they choose to approach gender disparities.

On my most recent trip to Malaika, an amazing organization based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I asked one of the girls what she liked most about the school. She responded that she enjoys two meals a day, she likes Saturdays because she enjoys the extracurricular activities, and of course she values the opportunity to study. Additionally, she mentioned that she likes the online classes where teachers from other countries educate them.

Before the formation of Malaika, the village of Kalebuka in the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo had no access to electricity, clean water, or educational facilities.What began as a few classrooms has grown into a school for 400+ girls, a community center impacting 5,000 people annually, 21 clean water wells supporting more than 30,000 individuals, and a sustainable agriculture program. Malaika has improved the basic needs of thousands of inhabitants of the local area, and as a result, they are now able to think beyond their fundamental human needs and make choices. Girls can become educated, and the inequalities of gender are reduced.

Navigating the complexities of gender across cultures and traditions illuminates the imperative for inclusive dialogue. From rural India to the transformative impact of Malaika in the DRC, the journey unveils disparities but also highlights the power of education and Purposeful Play in dismantling gender inequalities. In a world craving understanding, let’s transcend comparisons and embrace differences. As we collectively strive for an inclusive world, my experiences underscore the potency of grassroots initiatives, like Malaika, in breaking the shackles of gender norms. Your insights are invaluable—let’s continue this dialogue, fostering a more enlightened and equitable world.

Thank you for reading my thoughts on gender, I would be interested to hear your perspective, as I’m continually looking to broaden my views.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.