Girls wear pink and boys, blue – how often have you heard this statement?
Tired of hearing it and wanting to make a change, two Delhi-based mothers decided to turn the narrative around.
Amita Malhotra and Reema Ahmad started a platform to drive candid conversations on issues of gender, media and culture and their influence on children and young adults – which they aptly called ‘Candidly’.
Amita and Reema were in college together, and that was where they were exposed to ideas of gender, feminism, and equality.
Having forged a friendship in college, they continued to remain in touch even after their lives took them in different directions.
Amita tells The Better India about their journey. She says, “I spent a decade in media, in digital communication and about three years ago once I had my daughter I quit mainstream work because I wanted to spend time with her. Reema, on the other hand, is a sexuality educator who is based in Agra. She was working on various workshops there.”
While many other cities are aware and working towards bridging the gap between the genders, Amita felt that Delhi was lacking. And so, she wanted to work with parents and children in the national capital.
The reason Amita was so keen on working alongside Reema was also that they were both parents and brought a different perspective to the table.
She says, “Until we became parents, everything we had learnt was academic, but after that, everything became real.”
In 2017, Candidly came into being, primarily to open up conversations about gender and sexuality in mainstream media.
Why do we need such a movement to be supported by mainstream media?
So much of what our children are learning today stems from what they watch.
Amita says, “We started with working with parents and teachers on sexual abuse and comprehensive sexual education. We also worked with children. Besides this, we created digital media campaigns focused around the themes of gender.”
They found that a lot of the discrimination and bias is quite deep-rooted. For example, you walk into a shop and ask for a doll, one immediately assumes it is for a girl, and that it must be pink. Labels such as “nurturing, caring, giving” etc. are attached to girls. While there is nothing in it, it is unfair to say that boys do not have these qualities. Also, these become the only things we expect from the girl.
“Aggression and physical violence are things that we push our boys towards. We never allow them the chance to express their emotions. Crying is a taboo for a boy,” says Amita.
Candidly is an attempt to break free of such social taboos while using pop culture and the media.
While parents are extremely forthcoming and willing to bring up their children in a gender-neutral society, their social conditioning sometimes makes it difficult for them to notice their biases too.
Amita says, “Every time a birthday or baby shower is celebrated, we go back to the pinks and blues.”
“These reaffirm the notions that we have all grown up with. We need first to be aware of these and then break free of them. Unfortunately, most of the images around us are all very gendered.”
Amita and Reema are working towards bringing about a positive change and urge you to join their movement.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)