Known as “the land of Kings,” and founded on legends of warfare and chivalry, Rajasthan has always been a traditionally patriarchal society. Deeply ingrained social practices, traditions and customs passed down through generations have created a culture that accepts discrimination against women as a part of life. This discrimination shows up in some of the most troubling statistics on the status of women in India; Rajasthan holds the record for highest percentage of married females between the ages of 10 and 14, and has one of the lowest sex ratios in India.
Discrimination against women manifests itself in many forms that start even before birth. Sex selection, not celebrating the birth of female children girl-child, naming girls Mafi (Sorry) or Dhapu (Enough) and forcing them to drop out of school after primary level to assist at home are just some examples of this. The prevalence of child marriage and the dowry system, an insistence that girls keep purdah, domestic violence, and harassment of young girls by in-laws are also linked directly to gender inequality. Women are excluded from decision-making processes in their homes and communities, and traditional caste and community leadership structures do not encourage women to voice their grievances openly.
VIKALP’s WORK TO IMPROVE GENDER EQUALITY
Vikalp believes in a society where girls and boys are treated equally, where the rights of both men and women are fully recognized and appreciated. To realize this goal, Vikalp works with local youth as Changemakers to sensitize their families first thereby bringing change in the communities. Vikalp also understands that to bring about a lasting change, it is important not only to empower women but also involve the men in the process and transform their understanding of women and their issues. With this in mind, much of Vikalp’s work is focused on sensitizing men to gender inequality.
Through awareness and advocacy campaigns such as Our Daughter’s Right, We Can End All Violence Against Women, Smiling Daughters and Send Our Daughters to School, Vikalp works towards enhancing the respect for girl children and women. You can also check out our Resources and Publications page for more information and downloadable posters, pamphlets and brochures.
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